Kouga Tables Revised Draft IDP/Budget for Public Comment

Closing Date 16 June

Kouga Municipality - logoKouga Municipality has tabled a revised draft of its 2020/21 Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and budget for public comment.

Kouga Speaker Hattingh Bornman said the original draft had been adopted by the Council on 26 March and advertised for comment, as required by law.

“Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, substantial changes had to be made to the draft,” he said.

“While the municipality is not legally required to advertise the revised draft for comment, the Kouga Council was in favour of opening up another round of public participation in view of the lockdown-related changes.”

Kouga CFO Riaaz Lorgat said the nationwide lockdown had impacted on the municipality’s revenue.

“The original draft budget was based on a 96% collection rate, but this has had to be decreased to 85% as many ratepayers and businesses have been struggling to pay their municipal accounts,” he said.

“The Council has further approved various payment relief options for municipal accountholders, which will also affect the municipal revenue in the new financial year.”

He said the revised draft operating revenue for the 2020/21 year was R904,99 million while the revised operating expenditure was R986,27 million.

“The focus has been on ensuring that the budget is fully cash-backed, with the deficit due to non-cash items,” he said.

He said the proposed tariff increases, effective from 1 July, were as follows:

  • Property rates – 5,25%
  •  Water – 8,1%
  • Sanitation – 7%
  • Refuse – 7%
  • Electricity – 6,25% average
  • Environmental Management Fee – 0%.

He said key expenditure items included bulk water and electricity purchases (28,36%) and employee-related costs (33,53%), the latter being in line with the norm set by National Treasury.

The draft capital budget for the 2020/21 year amounts to R62,95 million. A full list of funded projects can be viewed on the municipality’s website at www.kouga.gov.za and the municipal Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kouganews.

IDP manager Colleen Dreyer said the municipality’s development priorities for the coming year had been guided by the six narratives announced by Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks in his State of the Municipality Address. These narratives are Keep Kouga Serviced, Keep Kouga Clean, Keep Kouga Green, Keep Kouga Safe, Keep Kouga Smart and Keep Kouga Growing.

The development priorities can also be viewed on the municipal website and Facebook page.

In his opening remarks Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks cautioned that the societal and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, combined with the ongoing drought, was a serious concern.

He called on the political and administrative leadership of the municipality, the business and religious fraternity and communities at large “to help keep our ship steady through the storms, as I am sure, we will be hit by wave after wave as we try to navigate ourselves into calmer seas over the next few months and beyond.”

“Some difficult times lie ahead, but I want to give you the assurance that these challenges are not insurmountable,” he said.

“While many municipalities are flailing to survive in these times, Kouga has been rendering services consistently, keeping debts current on water and electricity, and managing to bring social relief in the form of thousands of food parcels.

He encouraged residents to take care of one another.

“Let’s keep our families safe through wearing masks when we are outside, practising proper hygiene by keeping our hands clean and making social distancing the new norm.”

Comments on the revised draft IDP can be emailed to cdreyer@kouga.gov.za and comments on the revised budget to sabrahams@kouga.gov.za. The closing date is 13:00 on 16 June 2020.

* The media presentation on the revised draft IDP and budget can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/226281930733233/posts/3498138366880890/

 

Covid-19 payment relief approved for residents and business

Kouga Municipality - logoVarious Covid-19 payment relief measures for residents and businesses have been approved by the Kouga Council.

Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the aim of the relief measures was to assist residents and businesses whose income had been negatively affected by the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

“Many businesses were unable to operate during the initial stages of the lockdown and suffered serious financial losses. Many residents were also unable to work and lost their income,” he said.

“The municipality was not spared, with the collection rate dropping by 19% in April. This had to be taken into account by Council in approving the final payment relief options for residents and businesses.”

He said some of the relief measures that had been approved, would automatically be applied to all municipal accounts.

“Then there are additional relief measures for which residents and businesses will be able to apply, if relevant to them.”

He said relief measures that would automatically be applied to all accounts, included a reprieve on interest charged on overdue accounts from the start of the lockdown to 30 June 2020.

“All debt collection measures have also been stopped for this period.

“Blocked electricity meters were unblocked in March and no money has since been taken off prepaid purchases for overdue accounts. This reprieve will remain in place until the end of this month (June 2020).”

He said from 1 July money would once again be taken off prepaid purchases for overdue accounts.

“However, this will be done at a reduced rate of 25% and not 50%, as was the arrangement before the lockdown.

“Residents and businesses will also then be able to apply for further relief.”

He said relief measures subject to application, included a retrospective payment holiday for the months of April to June 2020.

“Residents and businesses will also be able to apply for reprieve from interest on their outstanding accounts up to 31 December 2020. They will further be able to make three to six-month payment arrangements with the municipality.”

He said any household whose combined income had dropped to below R3 720 due to the lockdown would be able to apply for indigent service subsidies.

“These applicants will be placed on a Covid-19 indigent register for temporary relief. All households that qualify, will receive free basic services until the end of the year.”

These free basic services include 50kwh electricity plus the basic charge for free, 12kl water plus the basic charge for free, free refuse removal and free sewer, based on 12kl water consumption. Those who qualify will also not have to pay the Environmental Management Fee and will receive rates relief for an additional R85 000 on their properties.

He said the application forms were available from the municipal website at www.kouga.gov.za/documentlibrary/finance, as well as from the Revenue section at the municipal units in Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay and Hankey.

Once completed, the form and supporting documents can be emailed to abontshi@kouga.gov.za or submitted to the Revenue section at the above offices.

The closing date for applications is 30 June 2020.

Residents are encouraged to submit electronic applications if possible so as to avoid long queues forming at offices.

The form cn also be downloaded here Kouga Covid-19 payment relief application