Water, illegal dumping, policing top budget

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will plough more into curbing water losses, clamping down on illegal dumping and supporting the metro police force for the remainder of the financial year.

City officials presented the 2016-17 adjustments budget to the joint sitting of the mayoral committee and budget and treasury committee meeting yesterday.

A large chunk of funding will be allocated towards filling critical vacancies to the tune of R12-million.

Budget and treasury political head Retief Odendaal said the non-negotiables by mayor Athol Trollip were to keep the city clean, curb water losses and make the metro police operational.

The city has set aside R3.2-million to get vehicles for the metro police and an additional R5-million for operations for the force.

Public health will embark on a war on illegal dumping, for which R15-million has been allocated.

As the city struggles with water losses, more funding has been allocated to help save water. In the 2016-17 financial year, water and electricity losses amounted to R461.1-million.

An amount of R39.9-million has been set aside for the water department to assist its efforts to reduce losses.

The money will be used to fill vacancies, fix leaks and assist with the city’s water conservation efforts.

Budget and treasury official Jackson Ngcelwane warned departments that they needed to spend their allocations as there would be no more rollovers.

All allocations have to be spent in the next four months, before the end of the financial year.

When the new coalition government came into power in August, it went on a budget savings mission by cutting about R200-million within Trollip’s first 100 days in office.

A large chunk of the money came from cutting political appointments on the organogram and reducing the salaries of some political staff.

Ngcelwane said the city’s adjustments budget was confronted by several increases.

Due to contract employees being made permanent, the city incurred an additional R9-million in employee- related costs.

The unapproved rollover of R65-million of the Integrated Public Transport System budget resulted in the reduction of the equitable share allocation from the national Treasury.

The ongoing impasse between the city and high energy users has led to unpaid electricity bills amounting to about R180-million.