Kouga residents to pay more for services

A budget of R 637 million was approved by the Kouga Council in a meeting on Tuesday in Jeffreys Bay.

The DA Councillors all opposed the annual budget for the Kouga Municipality at the meeting.

In particular they opposed the 9 % increase in property rates, sanitation, and refuse collection.

The DA also insisted that more money should be allocated towards repairs and maintenance.

According to Councillor Brenton Williams a Council should allocate a minimum of 8 % of the Budget towards repairs and maintenance.

“The underspending on repairs and maintenance of our infrastructure over many years has led to the problems we facing today, with sewage spills, water leaks, power outages and the potholes in our roads,” said Williams.

He also questioned how the Kouga will ever catch up on the infrastructure backlog, identified as being billions of rand in the IDP, when only R 68 million was being allocated towards Capital Projects.

According to the medium term budget framework, things are not going to get better with only R 49 million being budgeted for Capital Projects in the 2017/18 budget cycle.

Williams also criticised the fact that the Tourism and Local Economic Development budget is only R 11 million, which is down from R 19,5 million in the 2013/14 financial year.

“Tourism and agriculture are the economic drivers in Kouga and yet we treating Tourism as a nice to have item in the budget and not as a “have to have” item.

We need to be supporting the big festivals we have in our area, as well as be attending the trade shows and market our area, which has so much tourism potential.

Tourism is the only sustainable creator of jobs in the Kouga and needs to be treated accordingly,” added Williams.

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Williams added that the DA cannot support the budget as the proposed increases of 9 % for property rates, Sanitation and refuse were too high in the current economic climate.

He proposed a 6 % increase across the board.

He was supported by Councillors Ben Rheeder and Desmond Peterson.

Councillor Dave Alderndorff queried why the residents of upper Wavecrest should pay an additional 9 % for their water, when they are receiving water of a dubious quality.

“These residents are getting water from the boreholes and not from the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, so there is no justification for charging them a 9 % increase when they are often getting water that is not fit to drink,” said Alderndorff.

The total operating expenditure for the 2016/ 2017 financial year amounts to R686,357 million, resulting in a budgeted deficit of R49,182 million. Compared to the previous financial year, operational expenditure increased by 6.62%.

Employee related costs (33.98%), bulk electricity purchases (27.20%), depreciation (12.11%), general expenses (9.87%) and repairs and maintenance (5.24%) account for the major operating expenditure.

Funding for the 2016/ 2017 operating budget is obtained from various sources, the major sources being service charges such as electricity, water, sanitation, environmental management fees and refuse collection (56%), property rates (223.32%), and grants and subsidies received from National and Provincial Governments (15.8%).

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