BUDGET SPEECH BY THE MAYOR FOR THE MTREF PERIOD 2016/17

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As laid down in the Municipal Finance Management Act, the Mayor must table the final Budget for the MTREF period 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 before the end of May 2016. Thus my privilege to present my last budget report after a period of five years. It has been an honour to serve this community and will highlight some of what we have excelled in as well as challenges faced.

Some of the challenges were to improve the liquidity ratio, spend funds on income bearing projects and restrict expenditure to the most important infrastructure related upgrades.  This was not an easy and always popular task, with seven towns and three communities demanding their cut of the budget.  Prioritising was the only solution and adhering to the guidelines in the Financial Plan we implemented in 2012, with the focus on paving the way to fulfill the promise in our Manifesto in 2011, to govern well.

This promise has been reached and is highlighted by the accolades and awards won since 2011 which have been prestigious: To name the latest, Winner of the Western Cape Greenest Municipality and Winner nationally of the Arbor Award Competition. Rated in 2016 by Ratings Africa, as the Most Financially Stable Municipality in South Africa (Metros included) and rated second best municipality For Good Governance in conjunction with Good Governance Africa, which refers to the quality of the administration and service delivery in a municipality. This has confirmed the progress made in this term of the DA/Cope/Civic reign. Hessequa also received its second Clean Audit Report in 2015 and is expecting the third in 2016.

We are aware of a growing dependence on Indigent support in our communities. This is due to the decline in the economy, worldwide and especially in South Africa. Economists are warning of a further deteriorating economic outlook depending on National Government interventions as envisaged and an ever increasing possibility of Junk Status. This is to the detriment of the middle and low income residents of all of South Africa, as well as the poor.

Hessequa has an accommodating Indigent Policy and have regular part time opportunities that are available for the unemployed residents.  As will be seen in the IDP reports, our residents seem to be innovative and find opportunities to earn an income, bringing the unemployment figure to the lowest in the Eden District. The Indigent Policy now has no restriction on the valuation of their property in order to qualify. Care Centres have received a raise in the rebate and this increases to R 150 per person who qualify according to their income.

The Property Rates Policy allows for rebates to pensioners of different age groups and increases within different age categories.

Income between R0 – R3, 100 per month = 25%

Income between R3, 101 – R8, 000 per month = 15%

The following rebates for pensioners with an income less or equal to R8 000 per month will apply.

  1. a) 61 to 75 years old = 25%
  2. b) 76 to 85 years old = 35%
  3. c) 86 and older = 40%

A general rebate of R50,000 applies to all residents on the valuation of their property.

 

Electricity increases are according to the raise in tariffs by Eskom and basic charges will not apply for registered Indigent residents earning under R3100 per month. A further category in respect of small consumers, using less than 150 kWh (units) per month on a yearly basis, will pay 50% of the basic fee in respect of all ampere sizes as applicable to normal consumers.

NERSA is in the process of consulting with municipalities regarding the rationalisation of electricity tariffs within the distribution industry, to determine the most appropriate structures. In view hereof, it is proposed that the municipality’s present structure be retained and not be changed until they have finalised their consultation process and provided clear guidance on the way forward. The profit on electricity used to be a major income for municipalities.  Currently the profit on electricity is a mere 9,45%.

Hessequa will need to broaden their revenue base and therefore priority has been given to capital spending in Still Bay and will the increase in revenue ensure that tariff increases will be affordable in future.  The sale of property is essential in order to contribute to the Reserves of the municipality by means of tariffs. These reserves are necessary for capital spending since the raising of external loans has a huge impact on tariff increases. This is in line with the guidelines as in the Financial Plan that is revised yearly.

There are many expectations within all communities.  We realise that towns like Gouritsmond, Witsand, Jongensfontein and parts of Heidelberg and Albertinia do not have a water borne system for sewerage, as well as the urgent attention to the need for costly storm water upgrades in Gouritsmond.  These upgrades need to be funded from Hessequa’s own funds.  These are some of the challenges that need to be addressed in the near future.

 

Housing is one of the most requested needs in municipalities.  Housing projects were successfully implemented in Heidelberg, Slangrivier and Kwanokuthula during our term. Current projects are being implemented in Melkhoutfontein as well as in Heidelberg. The greatest need is for serviced plots for residents who have been evicted from homes. This is a matter that will be addressed in a dignified way once serviced plots are established.

Continuously improving the current Fire Protection Service in Hessequa is non-negotiable.  This is a vast challenge and extremely expensive.  Currently we are awaiting the final decision from Provincial Government on the placing of this responsibility, either at the District Municipality or Local Government.  At municipal level will be our preference.  We are looking forward to receiving the brand new Medium Fire Engine that has been donated to Hessequa by Provincial Department: Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. Funding will have to follow function.  This will prevent an affordable tariff increase for our residents.

A full Personnel Structure Study has been done which was fully funded by Provincial Government.  The outcome envisaged, is to ensure productivity and furthering service delivery in Hessequa.  This has now virtually been finalised and full implementation to be done as from July 2016. The restructuring of the camps have in the short period of implementation over Christmas and Easter proven successful, with an improvement on the previous year’s losses.

The vision of Hessequa aims towards sustainability, by stabilizing the three pillars on which our existence depends. Our People, our Economy and our Environment. It promises benefits to all, with responsible governance and effective leadership.

The next term of five years will ensure that the current promises and successes will be carried forward and give effect to the vision of Hessequa.

A CARING MUNICIPALITY WHERE EVERYONE REAPS THE FRUIT OF COST EFFECTIVE AND INNOVATIVE SERVICE DELIVERY, STIMULATED ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES

I thank you.

Emor Nel