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Mayor praises municipality

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“The bad smell in the residential areas is being addressed. As a municipality, we are committed to making a difference.”

SWORN IN: Three new councillors were sworn in during yesterdays Sol Plaatje City Council meeting by the acting municipal manager, Boy Dhlawayo (left). The new councillors are Boitumelo Stout (centre), an Independent councillor, Chris Liebenberg (right) of Cope and Lesedi Mocwagole (not pictured), an ANC councillor. Picture: Soraya Crowie

IF THE Sol Plaatje Municipality gets its way, city residents could be paying more than 11% more for electricity from July 1. The city council yesterday noted the annual budget for 2019/20, as well as the proposed tariff increases for the coming financial years.

The proposed 11.4% increase for electricity is subject to approval from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa). Residents also face a proposed 6% increase for rates and taxes, a 6% increase for water, a 6.5% increase for sanitation and a 7.5% increase for refuse removal.

Presenting the budget at a special city council meeting yesterday, the executive mayor, Patrick Mabilo, made use of the opportunity to praise the municipality for the work done in the past year.

“Today the city is clean,” Mabilo said. “There is a dedicated team that cleans the city.”

He added that the water cuts issue in the city had been resolved. “Water outages are a thing of the past,” he stated, adding that the sewage problems had also been resolved. “The bad smell in the residential areas is being addressed. As a municipality, we are committed to making a difference.”

Mabilo stated further that the focal point for the coming financial year would be the short- and long-term financial sustainability of the city, the cleaning of the city, the vigorous pursuit of the municipality’s debt collection, addressing water, electricity and sanitation issues (which, he pointed out, were 95% addressed already), marketing the city to draw investment (indicating that a Chinese government delegation would be visiting the city next week, although the investors were going to Johannesburg), optimising the potential of the Fresh Produce Market, preparing bankable plans for funding to address the city’s road and stormwater issues, staff discipline and performance, changing the perception and image of the city and strengthening bilateral relations.

Concern was expressed by the DA that the budget, although it was still a draft budget, was being tabled without any opportunity for councillors to discuss the document. “We are not being given any opportunity as councillors to participate in the budget process,” DA councillor Reinette Liebenberg pointed out.

It was, however, indicated by the Speaker, Ingrid Koopman, that a special meeting would be held in the next two weeks where councillors would be given the opportunity to discuss the budget.

Before the budget and proposed tariffs are adopted, a series of consultation meetings will be held with community members as well as business.

The budget must be adopted before the end of May.