Public meetings to discuss metro’s draft budget

2015-05-06 06:00

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THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is hosting a series of public meetings, from yesterday until May 18, to discuss, among others, its draft 2015/16 budget.

According to the draft budget, the municipality’s total operating revenue has increased by 7.6% (or R626-million) for the 2015/16 financial year to a total of R8.9-billion in operating revenue. The total operating expenditure for the 2015/16 financial year amounts to R9.3-billion, resulting in a budgeted deficit of R439.7-million.

Proposed increases residents will face from July 1 are 9.5% for property rates, 13% for water, 12% for sanitation, 11% for refuse and 12.2% for electricity.

Other items to be discussed at the meetings include the draft 2015/16 Integrated Development Plan, draft 2015 Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework and draft 2015/16 Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it plans to oppose the metro’s budget and IDP and encourages residents to participate in the public meetings.

Councillor Dean Biddulph, DA metro caucus spokesperson, said the DA could not, in good conscience, support the proposed budget and IDP.

“The proposed city budget is not a pro-poor budget. It lacks any meaningful, constructive inputs relating to economic development in our metro and yet again overburdens already overstretched households,” said Biddulph.

“The proposed tariff increases are once again significantly above the inflation rate and will put even further pressure on communities who are already buckling under the previous increases imposed last year.

“The current trend to pass on the heavy lifting to the rate-paying customers of the metro is unsustainable and will push many households to the brink.

“The proposed water restrictions and punitive tariffs are outrageous in the face of the failure of the metro to first begin addressing the millions of litres of water lost annually (R329-million last year) through lack of adequate infrastructure maintenance and unaccounted-for water losses.”

Biddulph said charity began at home and the DA urged the metro to start with its own shortcomings.

“Fix the pipes before passing the buck to the residents of the metro. Steely resolve is now required from the leadership to demand the money promised by the ANC before the 2014 elections to complete the Nooitgedacht low-level water scheme.”

He said the IDP document was a cut-and-paste job which had not truly addressed the needs of the people of the metro.

“In many cases, submissions from our ward councillors are nowhere to be found in the individual ward priority submissions recorded into the ward IDP submissions.

“The proposed budget and IDP reveal all that is wrong with our metro - crumbling infrastructure, the inability to meaningfully and creatively deal with city challenges, economic development and job creation,” said Biddulph.

The draft plans are available on the municipal website www.nelsonmandelabay.gov.za

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