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Sol on cost cutting drive

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The municipality’s sport budget, used to fund employees participating in the annual municipal games, will also be cut.

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FUNDING for the maintenance of street lights, as well as the annual sponsorship of the Diamonds and Dorings Festival, are among the several cost-cutting measures that will be implemented by the Sol Plaatje Municipality in response to the removal of the R260 basic charge for electricity, which has left the local authority facing an estimated budget deficit of between R110 to R140 million.

The decision to cut the basic charge for electricity, forced by the community following several violent protests, has resulted in a substantial loss of revenue for the municipality, necessitating severe cost-cutting measures.

In a memorandum to all executive directors and line managers, the acting municipal manager, Ruth Sebolecwe, listed the cost-cutting measures that have been put in place to save on expenditure.

Listed as some of the line items that will be affected include overtime, vacancies funded and not critical, the security contract, the provision of bad debts, the sale of leave and travelling and accommodation.

There will also be no catering and no entertainment, while the municipality’s sport budget, used to fund employees participating in the annual municipal games, will also be cut.

The budgets for furniture and equipment have also been listed as items to be cut, as well as the catchment dam (aimed at reducing bulk water losses).

Internal electricity use and telephone use will also be cut, while the budget for Gariep Festival and Diamonds and Dorings has also been listed.

In its budget for 2018/19, the municipality budgeted R1 million for the Gariep Festival, which has since been cancelled, as well as a further R3 million for Diamonds and Dorings. The sponsorship for Diamonds and Dorings will now be reduced.

One million rand has just been spent by the municipality on the Gosha awards.

Also under the hammer is the maintenance of street lights as well as prepaid electricity vendors.

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that this did not mean that street lights and electricity faults would not be attended to.

“The intention is to cut down specifically on overtime in this regard.”

The budget for overtime for this financial year is R28.6 million (4% of the total employee-related costs and 12% more than the previous financial year).

It was recently reported that the income to the Sol Plaatje Municipality from the sale of electricity in Kimberley dropped by 17% in July as a result of the non-implementation of the basic charge of R260.

According to the municipality’s budget overview report for July 2018, the budgeted income from electricity was R64.3 million. However, only R53 million was received for the month of July.

It has been estimated that over the year this deficit is expected to be between R110 to R140 million which, with a total operating budget of R1.2 billion, is about 10% of the budget.

DA caucus leader, Phillip Vorster, pointed out yesterday that the basic tariff on electricity was implemented by the municipality without any negotiations or discussions “and in the same unilateral manner, once again without any consultation, the tariff was denounced”.

“This has now left the municipality with a major deficit on its budget which is bound to jeopardise service delivery in the city and will affect every single resident.”

He added that the party had been trying to get discussions going on how the decision to do away with the electricity tariff would affect the budget for the last month and a half, “but to no avail”.

“And now, once again, without any discussions, this list is sent out. It is indicative of the haphazard, uncontrolled manner in which the entire matter has been handled and just shows the level of competence of our municipal officials, while service delivery suffers,” Vorster concluded.