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Higher budget to benefit the poor

Residents of Drakenstein will need to brace themselves for sharp increases in property rates, fees, charges and tariffs from 1 July – especially electricity, with a shocking increase of 13,93%.

The property rates revenue stream will increase by 8,2% and water will increase by 6,0%. The tariff for sewerage and sanitation increases by 11,0%, to ensure this economic service expenditure and revenue moves towards a break-even point.

Refuse removal will increase by 10,8% while rental will increase by 7,5% and sundry by 10%.

This is what the Drakenstein Municipality tabled at its annual budget on Friday 31 May.

The focus was especially on dedicated programmes to build basic infrastructure, water and sanitation services, and consistently stimulate economic growth, development and job creation in Drakenstein for 2019-20.

“This budget is truly an expression of how the municipality responded to all our stakeholders in doing what is right for our community, to the best of our abilities, in a caring manner,” said Councillor Gert Combrink, Acting Mayor of Drakenstein Municipality.

The R2,857 billion budget consists of a R2,479 billion operating and R378 million capital budget.

“Listening to our community, we understand there is still an outcry over low-cost housing, electricity for our informal and backyard structures, upgrading and establishment of parks, safety and security, road safety in rural areas, road infrastructure, tarring of pavements, job creation and various other issues.

“We have recommitted ourselves, through a budget that can be described as pro-poor, to addressing these matters,” said Combrink.

In general, the less fortunate residents of the valley will receive the major chunk of the budget: bulk and basic infrastructure services, more clean drinking water and sanitation, better roads and stormwater infrastructure.

R10 million is allocated to the electrification of informal settlements, providing 250 more informal structures with access to electricity in 2019-20.

The budget makes provision for the construction of 487 new houses in the next financial year.

Provision is being made for about 1 030 job opportunities at an estimated cost of R10,4 million.

Almost R1 million will be allocated to rural development programmes that will include skills development and bursaries.

The first phase of a safety project will be rolled out to an amount of R2,1 million. This is a partnership project between the municipality, the Department of Community Safety, Saps, neighbourhood and farm watches, and security companies.

An amount of R12,6 million will support various sports and other events as well as infrastructure for informal traders.

Almost R26 million will go to upgrading and construction of parks, swimming pools and sports infrastructure and facilities at Boy Louw, Newton, Dal Josaphat, Fairyland, De Kraal and Parys. A total of R3,3 million will be spent on upgrading play parks and open spaces, while R12 million will go to the development and upgrading of cemeteries.

Opposition leader Moutie Richards says the general public have been bombarded with higher than inflation rates increases for the last few years and this year is no different.

“The large external borrowings are placing the municipality under severe pressure,” he says, “and most of the financial indicators show that the municipality is probably going to experience cash flow problems soon.

“It would appear that the budget does not take into account the history of under collection of revenue, under spending of both the operational and capital budgets. Proper planning and management should be implemented on all projects throughout the year to ensure all funds are spent before the financial year-end to avoid funds being rolled over to the next financial year.

“The slow provision of low-cost housing in Drakenstein is putting strain on the backlog.”

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