Proposed municipal budget offers ‘modest tariff increases’ but not enough rates relief, say business owners

Councillor Thulani Mahaye, Mayor Richard Mbatha and newly appointed municipal manager, SR Ntuli.

While residents will welcome the proposed below-inflation 5% increase in rates, business owners are still seeking relief following last year’s re-evaluation of properties and the associated cents in the Rand formula, which saw the rates of some properties increase by up to 120-150%.
Mayor Richard Mbatha told a draft budget feedback meeting in the Moth Hall last week that he was aware of businesses suffering because of the huge increases and agreed that something should be done.
Pressed for answers by business owners at the meeting Mayor Mbatha said the municipality was considering a 12% rates rebate for businesses.
However, some in the audience wanted to know if the rebate would be back-dated as many said the increases that had come into effect in July 2017 ‘were untenable’.
Motz Bezuidenhout of the Royal Country Inn, whose rates increased from around R12 000 to R27 000, said to survive she would have had to increase her tariffs by well over 100% which would have put the hotel out of business.
Mayor Mbatha said there would be further consultation with business people to help resolve the issue.
Other tariff increases proposed by the draft budget include a 3% hike in the cost of refuse removal and a 6,84% increase in electricity charges – well below the 27,29% as sought by Eskom.

 

He said plans are still afoot to establish a university in the area and build a new shopping mall. Turning to social issues, Mayor Mbatha pledged that CCTV security cameras would be put in the central business district in a bid to stem the seemingly out-of-control crime wave. 

Mayor Mbatha used the roadshow to introduce new municipal manager, SR Ntuli, previously of Mtubatuba and D Mthembu, the recently appointed corporate services manager.
“After having had actors for many years, the municipality is pleased to have finally appointed full-time appointees which will speed up service delivery.”
He said plans are still afoot to establish a university in the area and build a new shopping mall. Turning to social issues, Mayor Mbatha pledged that CCTV security cameras would be put in the central business district in a bid to stem the seemingly out-of-control crime wave.

Council to probe rates debacle following criticism over high bills …

LETTER – ‘Exorbitant rates increases will kill us’ 

How can you justify a 351,9% rates increase?
He made a commitment that, with the help of Buffalo Coal, Browning and Argyle Streets that have virtually disintegrated because of the heavy trucks using the route, would be upgraded. Provision has also been made to establish additional cemeteries and continue with the electrification of the rest of the municipal area.
Other highlights mentioned by the Mayor included an R42-million equitable share from central Government and a capital budget of R46,6-million which includes R8-million from Buffalo Coal (for a sports field in Glencoe, community crèche and stalls for informal traders) and R24-million from the State’s Municipal Infrastructure Grant, MIG. He also mentioned the building of a new park on the Glencoe by-pass area.

FC Bester chatting to Councillor Lucky Khumalo

  AUTHOR
Northern KZN Courier

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