Residents can brace themselves for hefty increases in the cost of living following a Council meeting on Thursday where an R 483 million operational budget was approved.
Total expenditure has risen by 19 % or R 75 million when compared to the previous year’s budget.
The cost of electricity is going to affect Kouga residents the most. The increase of 20 % as tabled in the budget is unfortunately an average and a new block tariff system will actually mean that consumers will generally be paying a lot more.
A household that uses about 400 Kwh per month will be paying about 30 % per month more for electricity, while a household that uses more than 600 Kwh will be paying in excess of 40 % per month more for electricity.
This increase was just one of the reasons that led the Democratic Alliance (DA) to oppose the Budget.
DA Councillor Ben Rheeder pointed out that the Budget is based on an assumption that 95 % of all money owing to the Municipality will be collected. However, in reality this figure is closer to 80 %.
“Every 1 % equals R 4 million so even if we collect 85 % this will still leave us R 40 million short on our Budget”, said Rheeder.
This means that there is no end in sight to the cash flow problem already been experienced by the Municipality and in all probability there will be little money spent on the maintenance of our infrastructure.
The latest Auditor General’s report on the Kouga Municipality revealed that 53 % of the capital budget was not spent in the previous financial year.
This led DA Councillor Brenton Williams to strongly oppose the budget.
“We are already seeing sewage flowing freely in our streets and on the beaches in Jeffreys Bay, yet only R 7 million has been budgeted for the upgrade of the sewage infrastructure”, said Williams.
“The R 37 million infrastructural upgrade that was supposed to have started in May has simply not happened and we are now living with the consequences of a sewage system that cannot cope with the demands placed upon it”, added Williams.
He called for the R 7 million in the budget to be ring fenced and used expressly to begin the sewage upgrade as this project could not be delayed any further.
Another serious concern regarding the Budget is the proposed land sales of R 26 Million. In this current economic climate it is not certain that these sales will be realised, leaving an even bigger cash flow problem in the Budget.
It is time to tighten our belts, residents of the Kouga.