Eye-watering bills shock for hard pressed residents on top of rates hike

Reeling from a rate increase of up to 120% since July, business owners have been hit with another bill shocker with Umzinyathi District Municipality hiking up the water tariffs by 90%.
The tariff for domestic water use has increased by 6,4%. Businesses are now charged R16.69 per kilolitre with no incremental (stepped tariffs) while homes are charged R7,18 per kilolitre for the first 6kl used per month, increasing to R7,33 for usage from 7-20 kilolitres, R9,28 per kilolitre for usage from 21 to 40 kilolitres and R11,12 per kilolitre thereafter.
Reacting to queries to the Courier, following a flood of complaints from readers who had received their new water bills, the District Municipality said ‘customers are to be aware that tariffs increase every new financial year, which is from July to June of the following year.’
“In this financial year 2017/2018, Umzinyathi had to do a calculation of tariffs to be cost-reflective. We had to calculate our tariffs using direct and indirect costs to produce water for the whole district. Our tariffs are reviewed annually as per Municipal Finance Management Act and Budget circular issued every year.
“Making a huge loss”
“We were making a huge loss in the previous years because we needed to fix the following; ageing infrastructure and leaking water meters.
“A comparison was also done with other municipalities on how much they are charging their consumers on water and sanitation and it was discovered that many other municipalities are using higher tariffs than our district and are also charging fixed charges per household monthly for an amount around R120-R150. The tariff model used by the municipality suits the economy of our district. The domestic consumer tariff increase was 6.4% and for business, it was 90%.
“In turn, we will be embarking on a revenue collection drive to book our low collection rate and to encourage our customers to pay their water bills on time, as we will be constituting strict penalties e.g disconnections, on those who don’t pay.
“The low collection rate affects the municipality negatively because the money collected helps with the maintenance of infrastructure, the maintenance and replacement of faulty meters, and the buying of equipment to assist in producing safe drinking water and fixing sewer blockages. Communities are therefore urged to pay their accounts on time, or to come to our offices to make payment arrangements to settle their accounts or for any other account queries. Our office hours are: 7.30am -16.00pm Monday to Thursday and Friday 8.00am – 3pm.”

Terry Worley

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