From page 1 eThekwini Municipality passes 2015/2016 budget

2015-06-04 06:00

Sanitation services and rubbish removal will cost property owners almost eight percent more, according to the R39.1 bn 2015/2016 budget.

Properties worth less than R185 000 will be exempt from rates.

Pensioners will receive a rates exemption on the first R120 000 of their property. Child-headed households, those on disability grants, and the medically boarded are exempt from paying rates on the first R460 000 of their property value.

The city expects to spend R6 billion on capital projects, the bulk of this on providing low-cost housing, infrastructure development and road upgrades.

Of the bulk of the R33.1 billion operating budget, R12.5 billion will go to provide electricity services.

“Electrical services are provided to more than 700 000 customers in the city and surrounding areas. The electrification of rural and informal settlements will continue with new prepaid customer connections,” Nxumalo said.

A total of 30 000 informal settlement households will be connected to the power grid during the next financial year, at a cost of R11 500 per household.

“This will cost us R345 million and people in the informal settlements will benefit, and will experience a higher quality of life. Their children can now do their homework under human conditions,” Nxumalo said.

City manager S’bu Sithole said some residents had also curbed electricity use, leading to a reduction in further revenue from municipal electricity sales. However, as a result of load shedding, the city is now collecting about R120 million less a year in electricity sales.

According to an eThekwini budget presentation booklet, rates and service charges (including electricity and water) make up almost 70% of the city’s total revenue. Of the total 67.7% raised from rates and services, electricity charges provide the largest chunk of income (35.6% of income totalling R11.8 bn). This figure is projected to increase to about R14.7bn by 2017/18.

ANC Tongaat councillor Michael Abrahams expressed satisfaction in passing the 2015/2016 budget on Wednesday 28 May, stating that poor people will benefit.

“This is another budget that will help us realise our vision to make eThekwini the most caring and liveable­ city by 2030.

“Year by year there is visible evidence that previously marginalised communities are experiencing a better life than previous years, that is what transformation is all about. More families are getting drinking water in their homes and electricity to light up their lives. More homes are being built,” said Abrahams.

DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said: “We don’t want gross mismanagement of the budget. We will only support it if what has been presented to us is going to be done.

“Spending and misspending of finances­ is on the rise in this city and the city failed to hold people accountable in the past. We can’t support this budget because it goes against our values­ charter.”

Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said the party was disappointed.

“We welcome the city’s social services and packages. However, they do not help disadvantaged people.

“Look at a pensioner living alone in an expensive house. They still have to pay rates. Tariff increases are going to hurt a lot of people in eThekwini. The increases are throwing people into darkness.”

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