Apology to readers

Unfortunately an unexpected emergency found us unable to publish St Francis Today last week. Owing to the nature of the emergency we were unable to send out a notice advising readers that we would not be publishing but all is well again and we assure you of our continuing service in the months ahead.

We would also like to thank those who mailed us news and information during last week and again apologise for not responding to your mail sooner. And finally to the many readers who called us to find out the reason they were not receiving their daily copy of St Francis Today, thank you for your support, patience and understanding of the situation.

Today’s newsletter really is more about catching up on some of the local news from last week so it maybe old news to some but we do feel this information is important enough to report so as to keep our readers aware of all important local happenings in Kouga.

Please save water

Kouga Municipality - logoWater savings not enough to ward off tariff increase

Kouga residents will have to cut back their water usage even further over the next two months to avoid steep tariff increases.

This is the warning from Infrastructure, Planning and Development portfolio councillor Desmond Petersen following the release of the latest water consumption figures.

Petersen said the Kouga Council was pleased that the latest figures showed a decrease compared to the previous year but warned that the savings to date were not enough to ward off the threat of tariff increases.

“We received a mandate from the Nelson Mandela Metro, who supplies most of our water for domestic use, to decrease our usage by 15 percent, however, our savings over the past month were only 10,5 percent.

“This means we will have to cut back our usage drastically over the next two months if we are to achieve the 15% target and avoid having to pay more for water,” he said.

Kouga’s usage of Metro water totalled 17 166kl per day for the period 19 December 2016 to 18 January 2017.

In comparison the usage for the prior year, measured from 18 December 2015 to 20 January 2016, totalled 19 171kl/day.

“The figures show that residents and holiday-makers made an effort to save water. We would like to commend everybody for their efforts while pleading for more savings.

“These next two months are critical as our usage will determine whether or not the water tariff has to be increased,” he said.

Water restrictions and punitive water tariffs have been in place across the Kouga region since 1 January 2017. The Council has warned that even stricter punitive tariffs might have to be introduced if water usage is not cut by at least 15% by the end of March 2017.

Save Water

Investigating AG’s concerns

Kouga Municipality - logoCouncil ready to tackle concerns raised by AG

The Kouga Council is set to re-open investigations into unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure totalling R483,2-million and dating back to 2010.

This is according to the 2015/2016 Audit Report Action Plan that was tabled to the Council on Friday (27 January 2017) as part of the municipality’s second draft Annual Report for the 2015/2016 financial year.

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said while the municipality had received an unqualified Audit Report for 2015/2016, the Office of the Auditor-General (AG) had made it clear that all was not as it should be at the municipality.

“One of the issues raised by the AG was the R483,2-million. This amount was accumulated over seven years, from 2010 to 2016, and was never dealt with conclusively by the previous Councils,” she explained.

“That is a lot of money for which there is no proper account. We owe it to the people of Kouga to determine why this money was not spent according to regulations and recovered where possible.”

She said the matter would be referred to the new Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC), chaired by Clr Atri Carstens.

“MPAC will investigate the matter and make recommendations to Council as to how it should be taken forward.”

The Mayor said other matters of concern raised by the AG in the 2015/2016 report included the lack of proper performance management and asset management.

Also flagged were water losses totalling 38,61%.

“This is well above the norm of 30% and translates to about R20-million in context of the annual budget,” she said. “That is unacceptable, especially under the present circumstances where we are hard-pressed to save water.”

According to the Audit Report, the losses are mainly as a result of faulty meters and illegal connections. Other contributing factors are the ageing and deteriorating water infrastructure.

Van Lingen said the 2015/2016 Audit Report, as well as the Action Plan to address matters emphasised by the AG, would be made available to the public for comment as part of the second draft Annual Report.

“We would like to encourage residents to play an active part in this process,” she said.

“Together we need to clean up the mess we inherited so that we can move Kouga forward in line with our new vision which puts ‘good governance’ and ‘service excellence’ first.”

Municipal Manager needed

Kouga Municipality - logoSecond round of recruitment for Municipal Manager

The Kouga Council is set to embark on a second round of recruitment for the position of municipal manager.

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said the Council had resolved to re-advertise the position of municipal manager at a special meeting held on Friday, 27 January.

“We first advertised the position in October last year. Interviews were conducted with shortlisted candidates in December.

“Unfortunately, none of the candidates were found to be suitable after the scoring was concluded,” she said.

“The Council was of the view that it is too high a risk to appoint a candidate for a five-year period when there is uncertainty whether that person can turn the municipality around.”

The Mayor said legislation made provision for the re-advertisement of the position of municipal manager should a suitable candidate not be identified.

The contract of the current municipal manager, Sidney Fadi, comes to an end on 28 February 2017.

The process plan for the appointment of directors was also approved at the special Council meeting on Friday.

The contracts of the municipality’s directors, with the exeption of CFO Selwyn Thys who joined the municipality in 2015, commenced on 1 August 2012 and will expire on 31 July 2017.