Mayor's budget speech
The following is an excerpt of the mayor's budget speech delivered in council on May 30.
MAYOR SIPHO TANDANI
MADAM Speaker, the 2012/2013 medium term budget we are considering here today attempts to strike a balance between improving service delivery and responding to the developmental challenges confronting Ndlambe.
The budget provides for a small internal capital budget of R5 000 000 to assist with opportunity to improve our service delivery performance and infrastructure challenges. I realise the inclusion of the capital budgets has pushed our rates and tariff increase to 12% and I implore the residents and ratepayers of Ndlambe to bear with us this year.
As mayor I will commit myself to ensure every rand is stretched and that we all do more with less. Productivity of our work force and operational efficiency will be top of my agenda.
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all those residents and businesses who continue to sustain this municipality by paying for their services. Without these payments the Ndlambe municipality cannot provide you with basic services. I encourage everyone to be responsible ratepayers and consumers and to pay their accounts on or before the due dates.
Madam Speaker, as you are aware, councillors, officials and I have recently been through an extensive public participation programme and have requested comment on both the IDP and budget through mediums such as the press, notices, web page and loud hailing.
Many of our ratepayers and consumers have commented on both the IDP and the budget and I would like to touch on a few issues that have been raised but will respond officially to all input once all councillors have had the opportunity to consider and respond to all input received.
"The recommended tariff increase of 12% is unacceptable”
Many comments were received stating that the 12% increase is unacceptable, the majority of which were e-mails in the exact wording but were without recommendation on what should be taken out the budget to reduce the 12% increase.
It is very difficult to deal with such comments when no alternatives are presented. However, Madam Speaker, I am still of the opinion we need to impose the 12% increase so we can deal with many of the service delivery issues facing us.
"Salary increases should not be considered”
This point is raised during every budget period and the response will always remain that local government salary increases are part of a central bargaining process and we are legally forced to abide by the decision of the South African Bargaining Council. The issues regarding increasing the productivity of our staff will however be a matter high on my agenda.
Business rates vs residential rates
Two years ago businesses and residents both paid the same rates. In the 2010/2011 financial year it was resolved that residential properties pay 20% less than business properties. Over the last two years businesses have had to pay for the 20% that residential rates were reduced by, and the recommendation put forward was to reduce the burden placed on business by 5%. This however be evaluated by council before final approval of the budget.
"Maintenance budget is inadequate and other operating expenditure needs to be cut to increase the maintenance budget”
The maintenance and the capital budget over the past years has been our greatest concern. It is clear that both need to be drastically increased to protect our assets and provide the services the public expect. The reason for the increase recommended is to address these issues.
"The municipality has not conducted a means test”
It is correct that the municipality has not concluded a means test of each household in the municipality area but the municipality does use all information at its disposal to consider the impact of tariff increases on its community.
"The municipality ignores National Treasury recommendations regarding increases”
The municipality does not ignore the guidelines set by National Treasury but one has to be realistic when dealing with electricity increases, petrol price increases and fixed cost increases that can't be avoided.
The guideline issued by National Treasury is issued to all municipalities and municipalities are however still required to ensure that the budgets they set will ensure the municipality can continue to operate as a going concern.
It would be irresponsible of the municipality to implement National Treasury guidelines when it knows that by doing so the municipality will face serious financial problems.
"The municipality does not have a functional performance management system so management can do as they like without any measurement and this is a direct result of inflated increases and bad budgeting”
As mentioned earlier, this matter will be corrected in the 2012/2013 financial year and council will ensure that it strengthens its oversight role, to ensure that a performance management system is no longer compromised.
There are many other issues that have been raised by various stakeholders and these matters will be taken into consideration before the final budget is approved. At the time of the final budget approval I will submit an item to council to detailing every comment received and how each comment was considered during the consideration phase.
I must take this opportunity to thank each and every stakeholder that took the time and effort to attend the mayoral imbizos and to provide me with comments on the budget. Without your input I would never know what the issues are that you would like to bring to council's and my attention.
My only hope is that we can continue with this sort of engagement in the future. I am well aware that we may not be able to address all matters to your satisfaction but knowing that you are working endlessly with us gives me confidence for the future.