Kouga adopts new approach to EMF spending

2018-07-26 06:00

THE Kouga Municipality has adopted a new approach towards the spending of the Environmental Management Fee (EMF), which should see the reserved funding spent on what it is essentially meant for.

The 2018/2019 budget has seen a migration from the previous years’ allocations, where the bulk of the fund was spent on operational needs such as salaries and staff benefits.

These will now be accommodated within the municipality’s main operational budget, releasing much needed funds to implement projects relevant to the core function of the fees.

Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said there had been concerns raised by members of the public that not enough of the funds was being directed towards environmental management needs.

“In view of the many legitimate concerns from the public, we had to reprioritise the way we budgeted and direct the funds towards tangible projects that would improve the surroundings of our communities,” he said.

The EMF has been in existence in Kouga since 2008 and was approved by Council in terms of Section 22 of the Municipal Finance Management Act of 2003 and Section 16 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act of 2000.

The funds are levied on residents’ accounts separately from services and rates, with the main aim to generate money for programmes such as climate change initiatives, nature and environmental conservation, the rehabilitation of waste sites and establishment of new ones, the drafting of an Integrated Waste Management Plan, conservation education and to support Local Economic Development initiatives in working with environmental management.

“There is a lot one can accomplish if we work in a focused manner and this is what we are striving for as this Council. There is a lot to be done and there may be a lot of opportunities to exploit economically in the environmental management space,” said Hendricks.

According to the municipality’s Funding and Reserves Policy, the projected billings for the EMF, including the fees, are determined on an annual basis as part of the tariff setting process.

Projects to be funded through the EMF in the current financial year includes the rolling out of the Estuary Management Plan for the Seekoei estuary.

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