Landlords to be hit hard if Muni has its way

POLOKWANE – This is the grim reality awaiting landlords if the municipal budget, adopted at a special meeting held on Monday, is gazetted and implemented.

The now approved budget authorises the Polokwane Municipality to impose increases as follows:

• Water with 10%

• Sanitation with 10%

• Refuse removal with 10%

• Property rates with 8,5%

To add insult to injury, Franco Marx, the DA Ward Councillor was denied the opportunity to ask further questions regarding the budget and policies. The Speaker refused to minute this denial and the refusal to allow Marx’s questions.

The planned increase had also not been brought to the attention of property owners for input during the municipal Integrated Development Planning and Budget meetings.

Marx expressed his dissatisfaction regarding the processes followed at the meeting on Monday when the budget was tabled.

He objected to council that the DA was not allowed to ask questions during the meeting when the budget was tabled for adoption, and that the DA had specifically plan to raise the issue of the increase for landlords.

“We requested this item to be noted in the minutes of the meeting but was denied by the Municipal Speaker.”

The DA Caucus Leader, Frank Haas, asked for a division of votes, as councillors who did not vote for the budget could not be held accountable in any possible legal action that might follow.

The DA alleged that a number of other questions pertaining to the budget and IDP process were not allowed and were not minuted.

A meeting held after the usual council meeting last week, called for by the Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng, after the EFF too complained that certain processes to discuss the budget in council were not adhered to, was not attended by the DA.

Marx, an attorney, commented.

“The consultative meeting was not a requirement as provided for in the Municipal Systems Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act. These acts allow for the media to be present when the budget is discussed”.

“The DA voted against the Polokwane Municipality’s 2017/2018 Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and outer year’s budget as we belief that the proposed tariff increases are excessive while the public participation process was not fully complied with,” a press statement issued late yesterday afternoon, underwritten by DA Provincial Leader, Jacques Smalle, reads.

“The tariff hike is excessive compared to the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 5,3% for April 2017.

“We believe that the increases that will be implemented from 1 July 2017 will put enormous financial strain on the economy of Polokwane, post junk status, leaving the poorest of the poor to suffer as a direct result of the ineffectiveness of the municipality.

“We believe that tariff increases will impose unnecessary financial distress on the already heavily over-burdened rate payers of Polokwane.”

The DA called on the municipality to realign and balance the budget by increasing the paying consumer base, enforcing a culture of payment, commissioning an audit of the consumer base, implementing the debt recovery policy and proper debt recovery processes, and implementing cost saving measures within the municipality by reducing unnecessary and redundant management posts (as was effectively implemented in Tswane and Johannesburg recently).

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Nelie Erasmus

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