Fees and Charges for Building Plans Reduced

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AUGMENTATION fees charged for the construction of an additional dwelling to an existing house or building on one erf, have been significantly reduced.

“Previously, the augmentation fees alone amounted to almost R80 000. Add to that an additional R20 000 for consent use application, building plan tariff and building deposit,” said Kouga Speaker, Hattingh Bornman.

“Thus, residents would have had to pay almost R100 000 before construction has even started. This is irrespective if residents wanted to have a garage or granny flat built.”

That has now changed.

In line with the new tariff structure, any extension less than 60m² on one erf will be at no charge.

According to Hatting, any extension more than 60m² on one erf, but less than 120m² will cost residents 20% of all augmentation fees. “This amounts to just over R14 700,” he said.

“Additional dwellings more than 120m² on one erf, will be charged at 40% of all augmentation fees. This amounts to almost R30 000.”

Not stopping there, rezoning applications have been reduced by 23%, while rezoning applications specific to RDP and low-cost housing areas have been decreased by 45%.

“Compared to the previous cost of over R5 700 and R2 700 respectively, this translates into a saving of more than R1 400,” said Hattingh.

He said that the consent use application fee was reduced by 48% and residents now only must pay R3 450 instead of R6 645.50. The various departure fee applications also decreased by 23%, while the departure application fee used in RDP and low-cost housing was reduced by 45% – from R3 136 to R1 725.

“Considering new developments, the electrical augmentation fee for new developments was reduced by 30%, while the refuse augmentation fee was decreased by 10% – saving residents close to R4 400 and over R300 respectively,” said Hatting.

Before the reduction in fees, residents had to pay over R14 500 for electricity and over R3 200 for refuse.

“Not only will the new augmentation fees, that came into effect on July 1, 2021, support local development, but it will also spur economic growth. It will drive job growth and stimulate local, national, and international investment,” said Hattingh.

“It will, furthermore, result in a more sustainable revenue stream for the municipality as rates and taxes will increase according to the total square metreage of the building or buildings on a specific erf.

“The additional money generated, will be used to provide even better service delivery to all residents of Kouga.”

 

KOUGA MUNICIIPALITY’S FINANCES ARE STABLE

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RATEPAYERS in Kouga can sleep easy at night with the knowledge that the finances of Kouga Municipality are being well-managed, despite the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, Council decided to budget on an 85 % collection rate for the 2020/21 financial year as the economy of the region was being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown – including the closing of beaches, which was devastating for the tourism industry.

At that point in time (March 2020), Council was collecting 96% of revenue. However, it was recognised that the pandemic would have an impact on the stability of ratepayers to meet their financial obligations.

“We settled on a prudent approach and decided to budget on an 85% collection rate as the consequences of hard lockdowns and the shutting down of the tourism industry would have an effect on our ratepayers,” said Kouga Finance Portfolio Councillor, Brenton Williams.

“We are really grateful for the vote of confidence that the ratepayers of Kouga have placed in the leadership of the municipality by paying their municipal accounts and ensuring we could continue with service delivery during the turbulent times we went through during the 2020/21 financial year.”

According to Williams, in February 2021, Council adjusted their collection rate upwards to 90% and by the end of the financial year in June, the actual collection rate was 94%.

“This is probably the best collection rate in the Eastern Cape with some municipalities collecting between 30% and 40% under their budgeted collection rates,” he said.

“At the same time, we had to make provision for COVID-19 related expenditure, such as having to supply masks and sanitisers, as well as supporting a homeless shelter in Jeffreys Bay.

“We also had to budget for drought related expenditure, which included bringing additional bore holes online,” said Williams.

Revenue and expenditure

Property rates brought just over R200 million into the municipal coffers, while sales of electricity amounted to R289 million.

Water revenue amounted to R80 million.

The biggest expenditure items were employee related costs of R316 million, which came in at 10% under budget after overtime was reduced. This despite COVID-19 related regulations, which meant that the municipality had to assist the police with the enforcement of the regulations – often after hours.

Bulk purchases of electricity came in at R254 million, while other expenditure amounted to R117 million.

“This amount included payments totaling R6 million to the Bargaining Council, said Williams.” This is a result of the illegal municipal workers strike, which the municipality successfully defended legally, while keeping municipal infrastructure safe which also came in at a financial cost.”

Hire charges amounted to R33 million, primarily due to hiring extra suction tankers as well as water tankers.

R60 million was spent on the repair and maintenance of municipal properties, which was 92 % of the approved budget.

“These figures are unaudited, and the Auditor General will conduct their audit of the financial information over the next few months,” said Williams.

“Kouga Municipality received a clean audit on the finances during the 2020/21 financial year. Findings were made on performance management within the institution.”

 

From Teen Mom to Successful Career Woman

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Elvina Felix

Kouga Municipality Office Administrator, Elvina Felix (36), who got pregnant at the young age of 14 while a Grade 7 Humansdorp Senior Secondary School learner, now stands as a beacon of hope for other teenage mothers across the Kouga region.

SHE is vibrant, dynamic and authentic . . . with a passion to make a lasting and impactful difference in the lives of others – no matter their circumstances.

Motivated by her own life story, Kouga Municipality Office Administrator, Elvina Felix (36), who got pregnant at the young age of 14, now stands as a beacon of hope for other teenage mothers across the Kouga region – inspiring them to triumph over their personal ‘mistakes’.

At that time, she was a Grade 7 learner at Humansdorp Senior Secondary School, and the father of the child was in Grade 11.

And to never give up.

No matter how difficult it may be. Or what obstacles may be strewn across their path.

Elvina Felix

Elvina Felix (36), and her daughter, Deroux Taylor (21).

Single teenage mother

Her first reaction to discovering she was pregnant was pure panic – especially after thinking that her “illness” was caused by a stomach virus.

“I had plans to go to university and have a successful career,” said Felix who knew little about intercourse at that stage as it was not a topic discussed in their household.

And there was the question of what her parents would think.

A touch of sadness plays hide and seek over her face, “My mother was distraught upon realising I was pregnant. I could see the pain and disappointment in her eyes. My father was extremely angry.

“After their initial shock, they supported me one hundred percent – helping me to raise my beautiful daughter, Deroux Taylor (21) who boasts a diploma in Analytical Chemistry.

“Without their unwavering support and belief, my new life path would most likely have taken other turns – not as positive and successful as now.”

Back to school

Determined not to give up on her career ambitions, Felix went back to school the following year to continue with her studies.

“As young and unexperienced as I was, I knew that I had to complete my school career – no matter the obstacles or how difficult it might be,” she said.

The most difficult part of having to go back to school?

“Apart from having to repeat grade 7, dealing with my own insecurities and having to breastfeed,” said Felix. “By the middle of the day my breasts were so full, that the leaking milk showed through my school dress.

“It was also not easy looking after a child, while having to do your homework.”

Felix said the teachers were very understanding and helpful – not judging her for one second.

Success

Despite the challenges of raising a baby, Felix passed and progressed to Grade 12 – after which she enrolled for a Financial Management course, but had to pursue another avenue due to financial reasons.

In March 2017 she joined Kouga Municipality as the personal assistant of the Speaker. Two years later, she was appointed as the office administrator of the mayor.

Not stopping there, and living close to God, Felix was ordained as a pastor in November 2019.

She also founded a non-profit organisation, Project 1000 Women, in 2019. The vision and mission of the organisation is to reconnect and re-establish the bond between women and God.

Project 1000 Women vision and mission is to Reconnect and Re-establish the bond between Women and God.

More than two decades later, she and her husband, Aidan Felix – to whom she got married in October 2013 – are the proud parents of two children: Deroux (21) and Elijah Sam Felix (7).

Beacon of hope

“I believe God gave me a calling in life,” said Felix who is committed to empower and inspire other teenage mothers.

“Knowing that I was in a similar position and have first-hand experience of the obstacles that teenage mothers face, helps me build that trust and feelings of non-judgment.”

Her message to other girls who become pregnant?

“It is not the end of the world,” said Felix. “You must keep your head up and still follow your dreams, because it is not only your life anymore – it is both of your lives on the line. Do better. Be better.

“With God by our side, obstacles melt away when we make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”