Howick residents will be paying more for rates and services if uMngeni councillors approve the tariff increases announced in the municipality’s draft budget.
They will also have to fork out more money for staff salaries, with R126,9 million rand — an increase of 4,9% — budgeted for the 2021/2022 financial year.
Councillors are also set to get a pay rise, with R10,1 million (an increase of 3,9%) set aside in the budget.
In his draft budget speech, uMngeni mayor Sizwe Sokhela defended the increases, saying they were in line with National Treasury guidelines and well within the Treasury norm.
The municipality’s total operating income is forecast to be R512 989 358, with the total operating expenditure estimated at R512 869 536. The projected surplus is R119 822.
To bring in income, uMngeni will be increasing refuse removal tariffs to R78,23 for domestic consumers whose properties are worth more than R120 000.
Businesses will have to pay R146,07 per 120lt bin per month, with government institutions paying R129,85 per 120lt bin per month. The tariffs exclude VAT.
The rate randage has been set at 1,71 cents in the rand — up from 1,65 cents in the rand last year.
Projected property rates are expected to bring in R225 million, or 46% of the total income for the municipality.
Service charges, meanwhile, are forecast to bring in R124,3 million, with operating grants adding a further R107 million to the coffers.
uMngeni’s equitable share allocation, which is receives from the state to provide basic services, is R77,5 million for the 2021/2022 financial year. Other income-generating ideas include:
• putting contracts that don’t affect service delivery on hold;
• reviewing the municipal lease agreements to ensure they are market related;
• scrapping unnecessary contracts; and
• introducing a paid parking system in the Howick CBD. Sokhela revealed that a number of infrastructure projects are planned for the coming year in Field Street, Burns Wick, Russel and Rivers Road, the Emaromeni Road, Japan section in Mpophomeni and Fuze Street.
The projects will be paid for through the municipal infrastructure grant allocation of R20,5 million.
This grant will also provide the R2,45 million needed to buy a waste compactor truck.
A sum of R3 million has been budgeted for the resurfacing of 27th Crescent Road in Ward 11, with R4 million set aside to buy land for wards five and six.
uMngeni also plans to invest R1,5 million to upgrade the weighbridge at the Curry’s Post landfill site to improve revenue collection.
The municipality has also budgeted R9,8 million to repair potholes and resurface roads; and R527 144 to upgrade and repair community halls.
DA caucus leader in uMngeni, councillor Janis Holmes criticised the draft budget, which was reportedly only sent to councillors 20 minutes before the full council meeting.
“The DA has for years been pushing that councillors receive copies of the draft budget at least five calendar days before the meeting, as per the council’s standing rules and orders,” Holmes said.
As for the budget itself, Holmes said the DA was concerned that some of the supporting tables had been “copy and pasted” from prior financial years and that there appeared to be discrepancies between the content of the mayor’s speech and the CFO’s executive summary.
“The DA also has concerns about the insufficient budget for repairs and maintenance,” Holmes said, adding that they planned to go through the document with a fine tooth comb.
• Residents can comment on the draft budget by sending an e-mail to Mzi.Hloba@umngeni.gov.za or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies of the budget are available at www.umngeni.gov.za or on request via WhatsApp at 066 488 1953.