Mayor buys council extra time but key projects could be affected
Mayor Athol Trollip is hoping councillors will give the possible changes to the metro’s budget – which was rejected in council last week – another chance. Speaking at a mayoral committee meeting yesterday, Trollip said he had reached out to the MEC for local government to buy the council time to discuss the budget again.
This is because all approved changes to the budget had to be submitted by the end of the financial year on February 28.
City manager Johann Mettler said he had written to the MEC, who had the power to ask the national government for exemption on the metro’s behalf.
If this is successful, the council will be able to revisit the budget at its meeting on March 29, with the aim of submitting any approved changes by March 31.
Trollip said several key service delivery projects would be affected if the budget was not approved.
These included a public lighting initiative (R13.3-million), tarring of various gravel roads (R9-million), electrification of informal households (R35.7-million), an internal leaks detection programme (R39.7-million) and filling of critical vacancies (R66.9-million).
The vacancies include positions for private security staff, which council voted in April to insource.
“They are currently employed on month-to-month contracts [but] that condition will not be able to continue after the end of March, which means [their] contracts [might have to end],” Trollip said.
Another concern was the grant money that was still unspent and would not roll over to the next financial year.
“We are going to lose that money. [Without the changes], our ability to implement the IPTS project is going to be compromised, because we have to employ staff outside the current budget to conclude this process,” Trollip said.
EFF councillor Zilindile Vena, who previously voted against the budget, said: “The [DA] must engage with other parties. If they are bringing the budget as is they’re saying we rejected it for fun.
“They have a chance to work with other parties, but they can’t come with the same arrangement.
“They need to invest their public lighting funds in the township, it’s darker that side. The Baakens Valley [gabion upgrade project of R1-million] must also [be] the responsibility of the Mandela Bay Development Agency.”
The ANC’s Rory Riordan said the budget should provide more for township residents. He previously opposed the adjustments in council, saying they ignored the poor.
Though he felt the opposition had not been properly consulted in drafting the budget, he said: “We will look at the budget as clearly and creatively as we can [if it is brought to council again] and will suggest some items are changed.”