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Thursday May 31, 2012

Tshwane residents face stiff hikes to fund projects

The Tshwane Metro Council's infrastructure department has been allocated a large portion of the municipality's expenditure budget for the 2012/2013 financial year.

The department has been allocated R10 billion, while the environmental management department has been allocated R1.5bn; financial services R1.4bn; transport R1.4bn; and Tshwane metro police R1.1bn.

Funds have also been allocated to the Speaker's office (R185 million), the office of the city manager (R244m) and information and communication management (R317m).

The council is expected to debate and approve the budget - which includes a 12 percent increase for property rates, sanitation and electricity, and 10 percent for water and 25 percent for solid waste - at its monthly meeting today, with the increases coming into effect on July 1.

Ramokgopa said in his budget speech yesterday that the infrastructure department received the biggest slice of the allocation because "it is at the coalface of service delivery".

"They are the ones responsible for ensuring that street lights get fixed, roads are tarred, potholes repaired and that there is proper service delivery to communities," he said.

Ramokgopa said one of the key budget principles was to increase the percentage share of the maintenance budget.

"This is done to keep the integrity of our assets, especially in the more affluent areas.

"This saves us from expensive future replacement costs and improves public confidence in the (political) leadership of the municipality. It is important that we incentivise these affluent communities to continue paying for their services; after all, they make the disproportionate contribution to our fiscus," he said.

Ramokgopa said the expenditure budget for the medium term equated to R67.2bn, constituted by R20.6bn for 2012/2013; R22.3bn for 2013/2014; and R24.2bn for 2014/2015.

Total operating expenditure has increased by 14.7 percent against the 2011/2012 adjustments budget and by 15.8 percent against the 2011/2012 approved budget.

Ramokgopa said revenue generated from property rates was R3.7bn for 2012/2013 and would increase to R4.5bn in the the medium term.

According to Ramokgopa, service charges relating to electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal constitute the biggest component of the revenue basket of the city, totalling R12.5bn for the 2012/2013 financial year, an increase to R15.7bn by 2014/2015.

"For 2012/2013, services charges amount to 61.5 percent of the total revenue base. This growth can mainly be attributed to the increase in bulk prices of electricity and water which have significantly increased from R2.7bn in 2008/2009 to R9bn in 2014/2015."

Ramokgopa said the "media space is littered with deliberate and misleading communication that the overall proposed tariff (increase) in Tshwane is 25 percent".

"In actual fact, the average of the proposed increase is 12 percent and this increase compares well with our peers in the Gauteng City Region and coastal metros," he said.

Ramokgopa said the metro council had two active municipal-owned entities, namely, Sandspruit Works Association and Housing Company Tshwane (HCT).

The expenditure budget allocated to the HCT is R48m while Sandspruit has been allocated R1.2m.

"The capital programme of the city is indeed an arsenal for the fight against poverty, unemployment, inequality and addressing of infrastructure backlogs, thus standardising services (in) the city," he said.

The capital budget for the approved 2011/2012 financial year was R3bn, having increased to during the adjustment budget for the 2012/2013 financial year.

Ramokgopa said an amount of R2.2bn, for three years, had been allocated to the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.

An updated report will be tabled at the council's monthly meeting today. The fleet for Tshwane Bus Services will be replenished with 120 buses over the midterm and funding was approved as part of the turnaround strategy.

"The acquisition of new buses will inevitably double the revenue per kilometre and will reduce the fuel bill, (and) with the introduction of the automated fare collection system we will also be able to account for all our buses and we will have accurate figures on kilometres travelled," Ramokgopa added.

The DA, which is expected to release its alternative budget tomorrow, stated that the "budget is in the main prepared on the same lines and with very similar wording to the previous budgets".

Pretoria News

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