EKURHULENI BUDGET PRIORITISES THE POOR
Finance MMC Cllr Doctor Xhakaza presented Ekurhuleni's 2018/19 budget that further cements its pro-poor focus and shows that the City is on track to meet its 2055 strategic goals.
Tabling the R37.5 billion operating budget and R6.9 billion capital and infrastructure budget at Eden Park Sports Ground on Thursday, MMC Xhakaza said in Executive Mayor Cllr Mzwandile Masina's State of the City Address two months shared concrete plans about the future.
"We revealed a clear framework of sustenance and service delivery improvement; transformation of society and the City; and our ambition to be the preferred destination for investment and growth - where the poor and the rich can co-exist in a mutually beneficial environment, where they are empowered to realise their dreams and aspirations.
"Today we have tabled a very progressive budget that can only make our City a better place to live, play and invest. Our people have today, like every year, heard how we are going to spend their money on turning their lives around. After all the budget, as always, is informed by their views which we acquire through the IDP and Budget consultation processes," MMC Xhakaza said.
This financial year the CoE is raising assessment rates by 6.9% after keeping the increase to 0% in the previous year. The National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) recently announced a bulk electricity increase of 7.32% but the City will increase electricity by between 5.32% and 8.5% - subject to usage. The CoE is also proposing a 12.96% increase in water, the same increase announced by Rand Water.
Sanitation tariffs will increase by 9% informed by the cost of sewer purification processes undertaken by Erwat. The refuse removal tariff will increase by 7.5% for all users due to a similar increase in the cost drivers of the service.
There will, however, be no increase in library and information services; library auditorium; cemetery and crematoria; use of arts, culture and heritage facilities; and the hire of parks and facilities.
"The City will continue to provide services at tariffs that are cost-reflective but also taking into account the affordability levels for our citizens. By the way, a comparative analysis of the tariffs among the metros in the country make Ekurhuleni among the cheapest city to live in," MMC Xhakaza said.
The revised indigent support policy increases the threshold for qualification from R3 200 to R5 090. This will increase the number of people that qualify for services. To assist the indigent, the amount exempt from property rates increases to R150 000 from R100 000.
The City is also revising its credit control policy to address complaints about charges levied on disconnected services, reconnection fees and attorney fees on accounts handed over for collection. This will review charges upon investigation of each individual case.
The CoE is looking at ways it could assist poor communities to attain "letters of authority" as this can only be done through attorneys and the Master of the High Court. The fees for such actions are unaffordable to poor communities.
MMC Xhakaza announced that the City will allocate R1.2 billion to Human Settlements which will cover the acquisition of land and properties, electrification of informal settlements, and development of mega projects. The maintenance of hostels and rental stock will receive R70 million.
To upgrade energy infrastructure, the energy department will receive R576 million to enhance the network in Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, KwaThema and Daveyton. It will also assist to broaden lighting to Katlehong, Etwatwa, KwaThema, Springs, Vosloorus, and Tembisa, among others.
R678 million goes towards improvement of the road network with a total of R2 billion in a three-year period. This amount will fund the Construction of Daveyton CBD/N12 interchange; doubling Barry Marais road to ease congestion at the entrance of Vosloorus; rehabilitation of Kaalspruit; and upgrading of roads in the eastern part of the City. These roads include Etwatwa Extension 7, Arusha, Phomolong, and Masizakhe.
Water and sanitation receives R623.7 million for the Pomona Eastern Out Fall Sewer phase 3; repairs, upgrades and extension of water pipelines and construction of new reservoirs as well as towers in places such as Alberton, Katlehong, Thokoza, Tembisa, Etwatwa and Vosloorus; building of a water reservoir and tower at the new Clayville mega project human settlement; and replacement of large water consumer meters and domestic meter replacement.