EMM says new budget will bring results

He mentioned the following:

• The total operating budget for the financial year 2017/18 is R36.6-billion, which includes R2.7-b for cost recovery/revenue foregone and will be funded as follows:

– Generated revenue: R26.2-b

– Operating grants: R5.4-b

– Assessment rates: R5-b

An amount of R3.1-b was allocated to the social package for the most vulnerable and indigent members of society.

“To this end, council’s social commitment to assist the poorer communities in Ekurhuleni sees the first R150 000 of property value exempted from assessment rates,” the MMC said.

“Various other grants on assessment rates, such as pensioners’ rebate, rebate to low-income earners and properties zoned for religious purposes, will continue in the new financial year.

• The capital budget has increased to R6.4-b for 2017/18, a 23 per cent increase from the 2016/17 adjusted budget, which totalled R5.1-b.

“We have also set aside a record R20-b capital budget over the next three years,” the MMC said.

• The repairs and maintenance budget has been enhanced by almost 14 per cent from R2.9-b to R3.4-b “in our quest to ensure that we sustain quality of services rendered to our people”.

• An amount of R269-m was allocated for the Capex to Township Economies over the next three years.

• R24-m will be allocated to the Etwatwa Township Enterprise Hub for the year 2017/18.

Xhakaza said R655-m has been assigned to the electrification of informal settlements over the next three years.

Daveyton is one of the areas set to receive lighting in the next three years, from the budgeted amount of R169-m.

“Fellow councillors, allow me to point out that 49 per cent of the roads and storm-water budget is allocated to the Far East Region, which covers Duduza, Tsakane, Springs, Nigel and Wattville and will address roads and storm-water infrastructure backlogs,” he said.

 

DA reaction

Meanwhile, the DA said it is an ambitious budget, unattainable in the short term. It said it is certain that the ANC-led administration will not be able to implement it, according to Clr Bruce Reid, DA Shadow MMC for Finance.

The party supported the notion of social development programmes to empower the youth and address the issue of unemployment.

The DA highlighted that the lack of service delivery and economic growth was due to the number of vacant posts in the metro, which results in the metro exceeding its overtime budgets.

“The manifesto of empty promises must stop,” said Reid.

“In each quarter, we will demand to see performance and so will the people.

“Our residents are pleading for change and we as a government-in-waiting are ready to deliver that change.”

 

Tarrif increases

Property owners in Ekurhuleni might breathe a collective sigh of relief in regard to the municipality’s tariff increases for the 2017/2018 financial year.

The EMM has listened to its people, according to Xhakaza.

“The views of the people are much appreciated and they played a critical role in assisting us to come up with an informed and people-centred multi-year budget and integrated development plan,” he said.

 

His budget speech pertaining to tariffs includes:

• Property rates tariff remains unchanged for 2017/18.

• Electricity tariff increases will be between 1.88 per cent and 2.2 per cent.

• Rand Water announced a water tariff increase of 10.02 per cent, but the city resolved to pass on an increase of 10 per cent to its consumers. Xhakaza said the slight difference will be absorbed by the municipality through the introduction of water loss management initiatives.

• Sanitation tariffs will increase by nine per cent.

• The refuse removal tariff increased by 7.5 per cent for all users.

Xhakaza said there would be no increase in library and information services, library auditorium, cemetery and crematoria, using of arts, culture and heritage facilities and hire of parks and facilities.

 

The complete package of indigent relief is as follows:

• 100 per cent rebate on assessment rates

• Free refuse removal

• First 100kWh of electricity is free

• First 9kl of water is free

• Special rates on emergency services such as ambulance and firefighting

• Free indigent burial.

“We have 40 000 registered indigent households who receive free basic services in the form of water, electricity, sanitation and refuse collection services,” said Xhakaza.

“However, through some of our economic and job creation programmes, we have had almost 16 000 people exiting the indigent category between 2015/16, and we hope to create more job opportunities for our people.”

 

Expenditure containment

The MMC said revenue is under “severe pressure”, therefore council is looking at the expenditure side to curtail and optimise spending.

 

He listed these cost-cutting measures:

• Reduction of the budget for non-essential (general) expenses by 7.25 per cent between 2015/16 and 2016/17

• Reduction of travel and catering budget by 10 per cent in the 2017/18 financial year

• Overtime pay will continue to be limited to the maximum of 40 hours per month for those employees qualifying for such.

 

Additional cost-containment measures are proposed to include the cutting of telephone costs, further controls on overtime, the reduction of budget for functions and events and the optimisation of fleet management.

“We shall also be tightening our war on water leaks and thereby reduce the percentage of non-revenue water to below 25 per cent in the next five years,” he said.

“In the previous year we lost an unacceptable R759-m through water losses.”

 

Also read:

Council owned-flats lose market-related rentals

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  AUTHOR
Khutso Maphatsoe

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