Kouga Municipality’s budget for the new financial year was unanimously approved by the Council during a virtual meeting on Friday, June 26.
Based on a reduced collection rate of 85% due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the anticipated operating revenue for 2020/21 has been set at R906 million while the operating expenditure amounts to R996 million.
The total capital budget for 2020/21 will amount to R56,9 million.
Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, said the budget had to be trimmed significantly due to the anticipated reduction in revenue, but that it remained fully cash-backed, with the R90 million operating deficit due to non-cash items such as debt provision and depreciation.
He said tariff increases had further been kept as low as possible while still being cost-reflective, as is legally required.
“To ease the burden on households and business the rates increase of 6,5% that was initially proposed, has been decreased to 5,25% across the board,” he said.
“Various Covid-19 payment relief options for households and business have also been incorporated into the budget, as well as additional rates rebates for pensioners.”
The remaining tariff increases are 8,1% for water, 7% for sanitation and refuse collection, an average of 6,25% for electricity and 0% for the environmental management fee.
He said the budget cuts that had to be made, included the funding for road maintenance, which was decreased from R25 million in the first draft budget to R5-million in the final document.
“This does not mean that the upgrade of roads will stop. Instead, the emphasis will shift, with R7,8 million being included in the capital budget for the upgrade of gravel roads.”
He said the bulk of the capital expenditure would go towards waste water management, including the eradication of the bucket system, the upgrade of the sanitation system in old Hankey and the Patensie sewer plant, the construction of an overflow pond at the Koraal Street pump station in Jeffreys Bay, the upgrade of the Loerie pump station and the installation of waterborne sewerage at St Francis Bay.
He said the electrification of informal settlements and areas marked for RDP housing would continue, with R4,5 million budgeted for this purpose.
“With the drought being an ongoing concern, an additional R3,2 million has been budgeted to augment the water supply and minimise losses,” he said, adding that the municipality was currently finalising the R152 million drought disaster programme.
“This will include R2,3 million for the replacement of old main lines at St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay, R600 000 to upgrade the Hankey water plant and R300 000 to repair the leaky water tower at Paradise Beach.”
Other capital expenditure includes R1 million for wheelie bins and R2-million for CCTV security cameras at high-risk crime areas, as well as securing municipal infrastructure from theft and vandalism.
A total of R4,25 million will go towards the upgrade of sport and recreational facilities.
Hendricks said the municipality would continue to support businesses, struggling due to the extended lockdown.
“We are reviewing our Supply-Chain Management Policy, as we want to ensure that, as far as is legally possible, local businesses get preference when it comes to municipal procurement.
“Our Local Economic Development section has been helping affected businesses apply for Covid-19 relief funding and will also be establishing a business support centre at Ocean View in Jeffreys Bay this coming year, with R300 000 being budgeted for this,” he said.