Proposed budget raises red flags

As Capetonians we can either accept the municipal tariff increases or we can flood the City of Cape Town with our comments or representations.

Earlier this year the public swayed the council’s proposal on implementing a drought charge, after a massive outcry from residents, that it was unfair.

In a media statement issued on January 18, mayor Patricia de Lille said: “I understand that response and it has personally been a tough lesson for the City. I just want you to know that the City proposed the charge because we wanted to keep delivering important and essential services during this crisis. I wanted to continue making Cape Town a city that delivers opportunities for all. We are now going to have to make deep cuts to important projects.”

However, the relief was short-lived as the mayor proposed several municipal tariff increases on March 28, when she delivered her proposed budget speech for 2018 to 2019.

The increases include 5.7% extra for refuse; 7.2% extra for rates; 8.1% for electricity; 26.9% for water and the same amount for sanitation.

The City’s water and sanitation department has also proposed the introduction of a fixed charge for water based on the water meter size, as well as level 7 restriction tariffs.

Explaining the impact this would have, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said residents would have have to fork out an extra R56 to R100 a month more for water.

There is also a proposed fixed tariff of R150 on electricity for properties worth R1 million or more.

Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber, said the City was running into trouble and rates and tariffs were now so high that many people, especially the retired, would have to down-size or move to other centres.

“We already know that many businesses are finding it cheaper to generate their own electricity with solar panels than buy it from the municipality and the same thing is happening with water. Last month we learned that three private desalination plants are nearing completion and there will be many more.

“Desalination is not expensive but not when competing with retail water tariffs of more than R45. Some businesses will go off the water grid and the City will lose income,” she warned.

“The key problem is the high cost of governance. The City employs 27 249 permanent and temporary staff and has another 2 486 vacancies. The City has budgeted for another three years of above-inflation pay increases plus notch increases.

“The staff keeps growing but the workload is shrinking as computers take over the administrative work. Even electricity accounts are disappearing as the pre-payment system takes over. Unless the City does something to control staff numbers it will find itself in the same position as the hugely overstaffed Eskom and SAA,” said Ms Myburgh.

If the Day Zero campaign has taught me anything, it has been to get involved.

And I urge you to get involved too. You can do so by lodging your objection to, or comments on the proposed budget, by 4.30pm Friday May 4.

You can submit your comments online via the City’s website; hand deliver them to the City manager, on the fifth floor of the Podium, civic centre building, 12 Hertzog Boulevard; Post it to private bag x9181 Cape Town 8001; Fax 021 400 1332; or email budget.process2018@capetown.gov.za Be sure to mark it: 2018-2019 IDP.Budget