But proposed deficit budget fails to convince the opposition, writes Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko
Boasting that it had prepared the most progressive draft budget that Nelson Mandela Bay has ever seen, the coalition government has promised residents world-class services and increased employment opportunities and has vowed to eradicate corruption.
The first draft of the 2017-18 budget was tabled at Thursday’s council meeting. It will still go to the public for comment before it is finalised and adopted by the council before the end of June.
The city plans to keep its tariff increases between 9% for water, sanitation and refuse, 9.5% for property rates and 1.88% for electricity. It is pinning its hopes on getting more revenue from the property valuation process.
The municipality’s budget and treasury political head, councillor Retief Odendaal, said although they had tabled a budget deficit of R34-million, he believed the draft was a progressive one.
“We planned to have a budget with a R4-million surplus, but we are being up-front to say that will not happen. “We believe this is the most progressive pro-poor budget that this institution has ever seen.
“There will be a R34-million deficit; it is not a perfect budget and I invite all councillors to come up with suggestions on how we can make it better,” Odendaal said.
ANC councillor Rory Riordan criticised the administration for the proposed tariff hikes, saying it was unfair on residents given the tough economic climate.
He also slammed the coalition government for cutting back on sports and recreation projects, saying poor communities would be severely affected.
“We have concerns on the extent of tariff increases, particularly property rates,” he said.
“With the current re-valuation process and the 9.5% property tariff increase, it is possible that the best property owners will pay an increase of around 25%, this is too high especially in these tough economic times.
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