SUMMARY BY IOL
Cape Town – The City of Cape Town has made invited residents to comment on the rates and tariff increases after tabling the 2021/22 budget which they said “have been kept to an absolute minimum”.
The City’s budget for the 2021/22 financial year was tabled in a council meeting on Wednesday, and opened for public participation.
The proposed annual budget is R56.48 billion, of which R48bn is allocated to the City’s operational budget, and R8.4bn is allocated to the capital budget.
Members of the public are encouraged to comment on the budget from today, April 1 to April 23, 2021.
Mayor Dan Plato said: “The budget outlines our funded commitments as the City, which will see us deliver on our Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and associated strategies in order to effectively support the lives and livelihoods of all our residents.
“The current Covid-19 global pandemic has placed huge strain on our residents and on the City’s capacity to deliver financially sustainable services.
“Until such time as we reach herd-immunity, through the roll-out of an effective global vaccination programme, we anticipate that we will continue to operate within the constraints of some form of lockdown imposed through the national government’s disaster regulations, which results in additional costs to deliver services within the public health response.
Plato added: “However, we will not allow these constraints to prevent us from delivering services, which sustain both lives and livelihoods.
“We are determined to continue charting a recovery path for the City, and ensuring that the appropriate levels of services are delivered as efficiently as possible.
“The investments made through this budget will not only help to ensure services are delivered and communities are protected, but they will also support the critical recovery of our local economy.”
As part of its tabled budget for 2021/2, the City announced that it has made R3.4 billion available to help qualifying residents with rates and services relief.
The City’s tabled budget also includes:
R1.4bn for property rates relief.
R2bn for indigent relief.
R8.4bn strong capital budget to help boost local economic recovery to improve lives and livelihoods.
R460 million savings in staffing and contracting services costs and again, no performance bonuses for senior staff and management.
Plato added that through extensive expenditure cuts, “the rates and tariff increases have been kept to an absolute minimum with a 4.5% increase for rates, 5% increase for water and sanitation, and 3.5% for refuse removal”.
The electricity tariff will be increased by 13%, with residents not facing the full increase of 15.6% imposed by Eskom.
“It is important to note that 65% of the City’s electricity tariff goes toward buying bulk power from Eskom at great expense.
“The pressure on municipalities and customers due to these extreme Eskom increases are profound,” Plato said.
“Unfortunately, as a result of Eskom’s 15.6% increase in electricity prices, which applies to the whole country, we have not been able to fully mitigate this increase on the electricity tariff.
“We have, however, made additional expenditure cuts to ensure that residents and businesses don’t bear the full brunt of this tariff increase.”
Plato said that the City has committed to a zero percent cost of living increase in the salaries and wages provision in the 2021/2022 financial year.
“To achieve this, the City will petition the Local Government Bargaining Council to not award any salary increases for staff and councillors.
“We understand that this has been a hard year for everyone, including our staff and councillors, who I am very grateful towards for continuing to deliver services and support our communities under very trying circumstances, but we all need to make sacrifices to achieve longer term sustainability,” Plato said.
“Looking ahead over the medium term, this budget was prepared with the intention of keeping rates and service charges to the bare minimum to assist already struggling residents, communities and businesses.
“This, through profound cost cutting, savings and using internal funds to cushion residents.”
Plato added: “The R683m in savings achieved over the last budget period, will be used to offset the continued additional Covid-19 costs.
“We have focused much energy on closing down the income-expenditure gap to put the City on a more sustainable footing for the future.
“I know that driving such savings has not been easy for line departments.”
Mayco member for finance, Ian Neilson added: “With a tightening of the belt, while at the same time experiencing a growing population to service, it is tough.
“However, emergencies also bring new ideas and experiences.
“So innovation is driven to achieve more with less.”