Metro throws lifeline to residents with minimal tariff increases

THE City of Ekurhuleni has thrown its residents a lifeline by increasing electricity tariffs for the new financial year by between 1.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent.

This comes after Nersa approved a 1.88 per cent tariff increase for Eskom’s bulk purchase for municipalities. [This information has been updated since publication as new information was received from the metro].

The difference will be absorbed through energy efficiencies and the introduction of measures to curb energy loss.

Water tariffs will increase by 10 per cent, sanitation tariffs by nine per cent and waste management services by 7.5 per cent.

Appreciating the tough economic situation faced by consumers, there will be no increase in property rates.

Finance MMC Doctor Xhakaza tabled the 2017/18 budget (IDP) at the Ke Ditselane Village in Katlehong on Thursday morning that struck a careful balance between revenue collection and expenditure.

The City of Ekurhuleni has demonstrated its commitment to a pro-poor agenda with a R36.6 billion budget that supports poorer households while strengthening the provision of services in the region.

Addressing council, Xhakaza said: “We are a City that remains well-grounded and committed to realising radical economic transformation while aggressively attacking the three musketeers of poverty, joblessness and inequality.”

The budget is made up of generated revenue of R26.2 billion, grants of R5.4 billion and assessment rates of R5 billion and is based on an expected growth rate of 0.9% for property rates and refuse removal.

There will also be no tariff increases for cemetery and crematoria, library and information services, library auditoriums, use of arts, culture and heritage facilities, and hire of parks.

“The city remains committed to providing a package of services for indigents that include 100 per cent rebate on assessment rates, free refuse removal, free 100kWh of electricity, free 9kl of water, free indigent burial and special rates for emergency services such as ambulances and fire-fighting,” Xhakaza said.

The City remains the only metro to provide free wi-fi to residents and will continue the roll out of infrastructure with an investment of R33 million in fibre. Ekurhuleni currently has 300 000 wi-fi users a month and wants to increase this to 50 000 a month by the end of this year.

Xhakaza announced a 23 per cent leap in the capital expenditure budget to R6.4 billion, with a record R20 billion allocation over the next five years. The repairs and maintenance budget goes up by 14 per cent to R3.4 billion.

Ekurhuleni has put in place measures to achieve at least 90 per cent of capital expenditure (capex spending) through proper planning, strong project and contract management as well vigilant oversight.

Xhakaza emphasised that the City would continue with responsible and conservative management of finances and continue to find ways of reducing wastage. Some of the cost containment measure in place include reduction of general expenses by 7.25 per cent in the current financial year, reduction of the travel and catering budget by 10 per cent in the next financial year and limiting overtime pay to the maximum of 40 hours a month for qualifying staff.

Additional cost-cutting measures include telephone costs, reduction of budgets for functions and events and further driving efficiencies in fleet management.

He highlighted funding for major investments in building 100 000 housing units in the City. R1 billion has been allocated to mega housing projects.

The energy department will get R718 million to fund projects, including the electrification of reblocked informal settlements.

The City continues to invest in skills and capacity. An additional 1 500 youth will be placed in internship programmes over and above the 3 513 already contracted. Learnerships will be increased to 315 from 275 at present.

Kempton Express

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