THE Knysna Municipality has approved a debt recovery programme, which includes the writing off of about R30-million of "old" debt on services and interest incurred by ratepayers up to the end of June this year.
The write-off excludes arrears on rates and is tied to stringent provisions for "new" debt incurred from July 1 onwards.
The local authority will also introduce stricter credit control measures linked to prepaid electricity penalties from July 1 2013.
Knysna municipal manager Lauren Waring said a relatively sympathetic approach regarding debt collection from ratepayers had been taken over the past few years.
"However, we cannot continue in this way without putting council's finances, and therefore service provision, at risk. The municipality will embark on a significant debt recovery programme that will offer debt relief on the one hand, but will expect of ratepayers to keep their current accounts in the clear."
Waring said the debt write-off would start early next year. Details would be provided.
"I urge all ratepayers to make every effort to keep their accounts up to date, as we will pursue all debt incurred after June 30 2012.
"I also thank the very many businesses and individuals who have made an effort to make arrangements to pay off their arrears.
"The town and its people are intricately dependent upon each other, and are more likely to succeed in their combined goals of a prosperous town and environment when we put our money and efforts together," she said.