Council cuts 2018/19 budget by R87 mln

2018-10-03 16:16

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uMgungundlovu District Municipality has slashed its 2018/19 budget by more than R87 million.

This after their initial submission was rejected by the Provincial Treasury because it was unfunded and the revenue projections were unrealistic.

Council approved the operational budget of R808,6 million in a contentious meeting in May but that has since been cut to R721,5 million.

According to the report submitted by the acting chief executive officer Anil Singh recently, the pruning hit all the business units but it was technical services that suffered the biggest bruising with R59,8 million slashed off their budget.

Last month The Witness reported that MEC for Finance Belinda Scott had threatened to escalate the matter to the National Treasury to recommend stopping the equitable share transferred to uMgungundlovu if the district failed to revise its budget.

“Water income will reduce from R288 million to R188 million,” read the report. The district’s water revenue had been hit by the closure of several businesses in the Camperdown area.

Singh said there were plans to intensify revenue collection strategies as the debtors’ book sat at an alarming R493 million, of which R433 million was outstanding for more than 90 days. The municipality has introduced meter restrictions, disconnections and verifications to curb non-revenue generating water. “For the month of June, the billing was at R19,9 million, and with the identification of additional meters the figure increased to R25,7 million for the month of August.”

He said while there was a 25% increase on billing, it was concerning that there was no evidence of increases in the collection rate as some customers still did not pay. The municipality had initially hoped to increase its collection rate from the average 46% to above 70% on water revenue and service charges but that has since been revised to 55% for the first six months of the current financial year with an expected progression to 85% by December 2019.

Singh emphasised that the district should reduce its operating expenditure by cutting down on unnecessary items, such as travelling abroad unless the host covered the travelling costs.

“All telephone lines are to be limited to R200 per month and any increases are required to be motivated to the municipal manager and cannot be more than R500 for the month.”

Municipal manager Dr Ray Ngcobo told the council there would be further cost-cutting during the mid-term budget adjustment in January.

He said the district is also reviewing some of its agreements with service providers with the aim of reducing expenditure on contractual services for things like hiring vehicles and security.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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