Big hike in water tariff

2019-03-04 17:06


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Msunduzi ratepayers could be in for another above-inflation water tariff hike come July as 9,6% has been proposed for 2019/20.

During his presentation of the 2019/20 draft budget at a recent council meeting, the manager for municipal budget implementation and monitoring, Sifiso Khoza, said the City was anticipating a 6,8% increase in revenue to R5,2 billion, while grants and subsidies — as per the Division of Revenue Act — amounted to R1,1 billion.

“Operating expenditure reflects an increase of 5,6% from the adjusted budget ending up at R5,186 billion for 2019/20,” read Khoza’s report.

The proposed tariff increase for electricity is 8,0% and for property rates, sanitation, refuse and other revenue remained at 6,0%, all well above the inflation rate, currently four percent.

Msunduzi anticipated an increase of 8,0% on employees’ salaries while the councillors’ remuneration would go up by 7,5%.

“Employee-related costs account for 25,4% of the opex [operational expenditure] budget while bulk water and purchases account for 42%,” said Khoza.

The City’s projected operating surplus was R106 million, while the cash surplus was expected to amount to R636,6 million at year end.

Khoza listed 11 items that would be prioritised in 2019/20 financial year.

These included the capping of electricity and water losses, replacement of dilapidated infrastructure, finalisation of SAP implementation, urban renewal, filling of vacant posts and upgrading the call centre.

On the challenges faced by the municipality, he said they included the increasing debtors’ book as well as underspending on the capital budget and conditional grants.

The ANC caucus supported the draft budget and the recommendation for it to be open for public comment before its final approval and implementation on July 1.

However the DA, ACDP and IFP councillors were against the proposed tariff increases. They said the tariffs should be in line with the inflation rate.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said: “Every year the municipality anticipates to spend 100% on grants but that hasn’t happened since I joined this council in 2016.

“Every year we are surrendering millions of rands in unspent grants that were meant for service delivery projects.

ACDP councillor Reinus Niemand said if the City was serious about curbing water and electricity loses they would start by billing the 24 000 properties illegally connected in Vulindlela.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water hike

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