Interventions are bearing fruit in resolving billing queries and improving revenue collection, says the mayor, and the City is strengthening financial management and accountability.
BASIC service delivery should become the “norm” in Africa’s wealthiest city, which should function optimally, believes Executive Mayor Parks Tau.
Executive mayor Parks TauExecutive mayor Parks Tau: City will respond effectively to resolve billing issuesTau said the City had scrutinised its processes and acknowledged that fundamental transformation depended on a highly efficient and functional environment. As a result, the City had launched Project Phakama to redress historical irregularities in its revenue, billing and property value chain in a bid to improve the customer experience.
The City planned to enhance operations and respond to queries effectively in improving revenue collection. Tau was speaking at the tabling of the City’s 2011/12 medium-term budget, which he said had been prepared within a context of transition.
Although there had been visible progress, the City was concerned with ongoing billing challenges that negatively affected the quality of services. “We intervened and are beginning to see some results in areas such as query resolution and revenue collection.”
The City was strengthening financial management and accountability, working towards financial stability and sustainability and ensuring that expenditure was aligned with revenue and that the City had sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations.
It also planned to generate surpluses to build cash reserves, ensure positive working capital and reduce the level of borrowing. Capital investment was to be aligned with the municipality’s financial capacity.
Upgrading water infrastructureUpgrading water infrastructureThe mayor said a budgetary allocation had been made to improve revenue value chain and customer interface. “We have always said that the issue of systems are distinct from human errors. We will not tolerate incompetence.”
He emphasised that the City’s operating budget in the next financial year would focus on maintaining roads and patching potholes, repairing street lighting, reducing power outages, sprucing up informal settlements and eradicating illegal dumping.
The capital budget included among others, upgrading sewer and water infrastructure.
In addition, Tau said the 2011/12 tariff increases were motivated by input costs from Eskom and Rand Water, current national electricity constraints, a projected shortage of water, inflation, and the general cost of providing services.
Tariff increases included property rates, which were expected to increase by 6,7 percent for all categories of properties; an average increase of 14 percent for water and sanitation services; 6,7 percent increase for refuse removal; and an average increase of 27,7 percent for electricity, ranging from 5 percent for prepaid customers to 31 percent and 28 percent for business and industrial customers, respectively.
Lifeline customers would receive a “favourable” tariff increase of 8 percent, the mayor said. “One of the principles of the City’s tariff policy is premised on social considerations. This calls for tariffs that are equitable, affordable and that promote access to basic services for everyone, including the poor,” he explained.
Free refuse removalFree refuse removal for most residentsProperty rate rebates would be given to residential property owners who were registered on the City’s Expanded Social Package, pensioners and sectional title residential property owners, subject to the City’s Property Rates Policy.
Residents with property valued at less than R150 000 would pay an annual rate of R60 or R5 per month; residential properties valued at less than R150 000 would continue to receive free refuse removal services; the first R150 000 of the value of all residential property was exempted from rating and all households would continue to receive six kilolitres of free water every month.
Tau tabled Joburg’s biggest budget ever, announcing an operating budget of R29,4-billion and a capital budget of R3,7-billion for the current fiscal year. “In total, we are presenting a R33-billion spending plan,” he said.
The mayor noted that the City had a clear roadmap for delivery in the immediate and short-term period. “The City of Johannesburg is poised for an exciting new chapter in its history and let us all work together to help create a better Joburg through the building of better communities,” he said.
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