Durban – The Chairperson of the eThekwini risk committee, Phindi Shabalala, on Tuesday urged the city to tackle the issue of councillors and staff who owe money to the municipality. Presenting a report before the executive committee, Shabalala said although the amount owed is relatively small compared to the total amount owed to the city, it had an impact on the city’s reputation.“Right now it is not a serious risk, but if it is not curbed or measures put in place, we are soon going to see a recognisable impact on the finances of the municipality.”It was reported earlier this month that councillors and staff collectively owed the city R11m. A finance and procurement committee meeting last month reportedly revealed that 18 councillors owed R60 000 (on average R3 300 each) in rates in May. The report named public servants and ward councillors as the other culprits. By the end of May, more than 1 800 city staff member reportedly owed the city R9.6m (on average R5 300 each) and 165 ward committee members owed R1.3m (an average of R7 900 each).Mayor James Nxumalo said: “We need to make sure this matter is followed up… I understand that we are all human beings and we forget. Sometimes we do not look at our expenses and what we owe the municipality in rates. “I think we need to lead by example. We should all check our accounts to make sure we are up to date, so that we can be examples to the councillors who must still settle their debts.” Speaker Logie Naidoo said his office sent out a letter every month informing councillors they were in arrears."I have recommended that the councillors use a debit order system so that they do not have to go out [of their way] to make payments. The reason why this is being flagged is because we need to set an example,” said Naidoo. The National Freedom Party’s Bongiwe Mtshali said they had been talking about the issue for a long time, and that councillors needed to pay the city what was due.DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said: “I am worried because I have seen an increase in committee members owing the municipality. They owe more than councillors at the moment.” Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said the executive should find out from their caucuses who was in arrears, so the city could recoup their money.Shabalala said members needed to consider that councillors did not earn a lot of money. “Sometimes you find that it is not the councillors owing. In the township’s, you may find that the family home is registered in the councillor’s name and then they are held responsible when the family has not paid,” she said.