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Friday May 21, 2010

Tswane property tariff hike shock

Tshwane residents are set to be hit hard by increased municipal tariffs once they are approved by full council in a week's time.

Yesterday, mayor Gwen Ramokgopa presented the 2010/11 budget, saying it would enable the council "to substantially break the back of poverty as we extend quality services to all residents and create a business-friendly environment".

The budget - expected to be approved at the council's monthly meeting on Thursday - proposes a 19 percent increase for electricity, 10 percent for water, 11 percent for sanitation and 10 percent for property rates.

Ramokgopa said the increase in municipal accounts for individual ratepayers varied between 9.7 percent and 14.8 percent, "which is much lower than the municipal cost index at 15.5 percent".

She said the operating expenditure budget of R14.8 billion for the 2010/11 financial year "builds on our achievements... and allocates resources to priorities that we believe will extend basic services to more of our people".

An estimated R3.2bn is to be set aside to eradicate backlogs in the provision of water, sanitation and electricity, especially in areas north of Pretoria.

The council remained mindful of the merger of Tshwane and the municipalities in Metsweding for the two years of the Medium Term Revenue Expenditure Framework (MTREF).

Municipalities in Metsweding - Kungwini and Nokeng tsa Taemane - had potential (for growth), she said.

"There is available land and other resources but there is no expertise to unlock this potential."

Ramokgopa said that compared to the 2009/10 approved budget, the repairs and maintenance expenditure increased by 13.1 percent from R1.6bn to R1.8bn.

This will increase to R2.1bn in the 2012/13 financial year, an overall increase of 29.4 percent over the MTREF.

"We are going to leave no stone unturned on housing," she said.

"The Winterveld Urban Renewal Project will be funded to the tune of R34.5 million over the next three years, with R11m in the first year.

"In addition to the R31m over the MTREF, for the electrification programme, we also expect the Gauteng provincial government to add on these amounts."

The council has set aside R388m for the formalisation programme (informal settlements) through the new concept of serviced stands.

"The programme will mitigate against delays in formalisation caused by the provincial housing programme.

"People will await their houses within the stands where they have title deeds and basic services," she said.

The Housing Company Tshwane (HCT) remained an important vehicle to advance the council's goal to provide affordable rental stock in the Tshwane metro area.

"An amount of R40m in the next financial year will be considered during the adjustment budget to finalise the upgrading of Schubart Park and Kruger Park.

"This amount will be directly allocated to the company and reflected in the budget adjustment," she said.

The HCT is expected to beef up the council's capacity to offer quality rental facilities as is the case with the Eloff Building in Paul Kruger Street where the collection rate remains above 90 percent.

The council has also prioritised its Tsosoloso programme.

The grant of R38m is currently being spent on four "quick-win" projects identified with business plans. They are the Temba community hall, Olievenhoutbosch Park upgrading, Kumbayani Park; and Olievenhoutbosch pay-point centre.

More than R33m has been made available for fire-fighting vehicles (new and refurbished).

"A community firefighters programme has been established and it will be our flagship in the next financial year," she said.

An amount of R12.5m was allocated in the capital budget to fund the call centre in the north and R30m has been budgeted for phase one of the Automated Meter Reading project.

Ramokgopa said she promised earlier this year that the council would eradicate labour broking.

More than R175m has been set aside to convert those employed via labour brokers into permanent employees, starting with those in the waste management division, she said.

The council will go ahead with establishing the new Soshanguve Resort (Klip-Kruisfontein), upgrading roads in Mabopane, upgrading the Giant Stadium in Soshanguve, the development of the Klip-Kruisfontein cemetery, the upgrading of Moretele Park (Mamelodi) and the extension of Lotus Gardens Clinic.

Pretoria News


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