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Pay raise for councillors

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The total budget of the Sol Plaatje Municipality this year for the remuneration of councillors is R29.685 million

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WHILE concern has been expressed about the financial viability of the Sol Plaatje Municipality, the city’s fathers yesterday voted themselves a salary increase, which will see the executive mayor earning more than
R1 million a year and pushing up the annual salary bill for councillors to almost R30 million.

At its meeting yesterday – which took place following the cancellation or postponement of three earlier meetings – the Sol Plaatje City Council adopted the upper limits policy for councillors, promulgated in December by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

According to the new salary scale, the city’s full-time mayor, Patrick Mabilo, will be paid a total remuneration package of
R1 006 728.

The newly-appointed Speaker, Ingrid Koopman, will receive an annual package of R805 382, while the 10 members of the Mayoral Committee, who are also full-time councillors, will receive R755 045 a year.

The remaining 50-plus part-time councillors will each receive R318 691 a year.

Besides the total remuneration package, councillors will also receive a cellphone allowance of
R3 400 a month and a data bundle of R300 a month.

According to the Government Gazette councillors are also entitled to “tools of the trade” which includes a laptop or tablet.

The new salary packages will be backdated to July 1 2018.

The total budget of the Sol Plaatje Municipality this year for the remuneration of councillors is R29.685 million.

During his recent budget speech, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, announced that as a gesture of goodwill, members of Parliament and provincial legislatures and executives at public entities would not be receiving a salary increase this financial year.

This year’s increase for Sol Plaatje councillors comes in the wake of political unrest which saw the city council thrown into turmoil, with no meetings taking place for more than six months.

The municipal manager and the chief financial officer were suspended in July and, as pointed out in an audit committee report to council, there is no indication of the way forward regarding their suspension and the stabilisation of the key executive positions.

“There has been a deterioration in the financial results and performance for the 2017/18 financial year and a key staff member in the finance department resigned subsequent to the 2017/18 financial year end,” the audit committee report states.

The collection of short-term cash flows has been identified by the committee as the most significant challenge facing the municipality.

The 2016/17 and mid-year of 2017/18 staff performance assessments have also not taken place.

Among the items identified by the committee as “critical” is the sale of leave with authorisation not monitored properly, poor controls on budget spending, ineffective system control on pay day and no formal leave encashment.

The housing demand has also been flagged as critical with no proof of stamped application receipts for applicants who applied for BNG housing, critical fields are not available or updated in the housing database system, title deeds are not transferred to legal owners of BNG houses, the condition of BNG houses are poor after a year or two of occupation and no warning signs are erected near open fields.

The situation regarding housing rentals is equally as bad with no proof that the deeds search was done to ensure that rental units are not allocated to property owners, a rental unit allocated temporary for a period of six months to a housing official had not been vacated, rental arrears are excessive, inspections to identify defects when the units are vacated are not done and the housing integrate policy is still in a draft form since 2016.