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Fowler steps in as City manager
03 October 2011

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Billing issues are foremost on the agenda for the new City manager, Trevor Fowler, who began his new job today filled with energy for the challenges ahead.

TREVOR Fowler started his day this morning as the official City manager, meaning he is head of administration and accounting. He began his duties resolute about stabilising Joburg’s finances, resolving the billing problem and improving governance and service delivery.

City manager Trevor FowlerCity manager Trevor Fowler intends to stabilise the City's financesHe is a former chief operating officer and acting director-general in The Presidency. He said there had been plans that did not succeed as anticipated, resulting in the billing issue and some of the challenges with which the City was grappling.

“The billing issue has had the effect of reducing people’s confidence in the bills that they have and that of investors,” he explained.

His major task for the next five-year political term, he said, was to restore and build confidence in the electorate and investors, in an attempt to achieve financial health. His mandate and priorities were contained in the tenets and premise of the Growth and Development Strategy “which lays out the type of city we want Joburg to be in 2040”.

“When you have a 2040 strategy, one of the key things is to translate it into a real picture of what the City will look like. So translating the words that people have said into pictures that people can see is the first priority. And when they see what it is that needs to be done they will all work towards that, and then the management can start putting in place direct plans to implement the strategy.”

GDS2040
The blueprint that would come out of the GDS outreach would tell of the kind of city we wanted to create, he said of his priorities.

Over the past five years, the City has overhauled its financial management, enabling it to quadruple its capital budget and boost its credit rating. It received consecutive unqualified audit reports from the auditor-general, until the last financial year, which ended on 30 June 2010.

The outcomes of GDS2040GDS2040 will inform the way forward for the CityFor this year, the City received a qualified audit from the auditor-general.

“The biggest challenge is the need to focus on the financial health of the City,” Fowler emphasised.

He wanted to ensure that, at the end of his tenure, good governance, the delivery of basic services and financial health were a given. “Right now we are focusing on reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring that the economic growth of the city grows beyond where it is today.

We will improve on facilitating the financial sector, facilitate the tourism sector and focus on economic growth and ensuring food security, increasing the number of jobs we’ve got, increasing opportunities.”

Turning to other matters, he said the City should make a big dent in early childhood learning and development over the next five years.

He also wanted his staff to understand that they were public officials, employed by the electorate. “People must understand that they are here to serve the public. Service is a great thing to undertake.

Public servants
“As we serve the public, we are professionals so we focus on the work we do. We are creative and innovative and find solutions to improve the services we provide, whether it be services that create an environment for jobs or improving health, services that provide people with cultural opportunities or transport services,” he said.

BillingBilling a priority“People must focus on those things, achieve them and do so in a professional way.”

Fowler is tasked with the City’s strategic and policy direction, integrated development planning, performance management and high level co-ordination of municipal oversight. He is the head of administration and the City’s chief accounting officer.

“Service to people is not about just their commitment; it’s also about ensuring that we as individuals grow and are able through our growth to contribute even greater to our professions but also to the community which those professions provide services for,” he said.

Fowler is a qualified civil engineer and has been active in politics since 1994. Going into the next five-year term of office, he will lead an administrative team that oversees a staff of over 30 000. He is responsible for the City’s capital expenditure of over R30-billion.

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