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Kouga makes history with unanimous approval of budget    

Kouga Municipality will start its new financial year on a high note following the unanimous approval of the new budget by the Council on 31 May 2017.

It is the first time in the history of the municipality that its annual budget was approved unopposed and without conditions.

The municipality’s new five-year Integrated Development Plan (IDP) was also approved unanimously at the same meeting.

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen commended councillors for setting aside their political differences in the interest of communities.

“This is the first budget to be compiled since the new DA-led Council was inaugurated in August 2016.

“We wanted it to be a unifying document, hence an open and transparent process was followed, with ample opportunity for all councillors, communities and stakeholder groups to provide input,” she said.

“We are pleased that our efforts paid off and that the budget for 2017/2018 can be implemented with the full support of all parties.”

ANC Whip Malibongwe Dayimani said his party had had some concerns about the budget, but that they were able to resolve these through the consultative processes.

 “We will, however, be keeping a close eye on the implementation of the budget and will not hesitate to hold the governing party accountable should we pick up problems such as the performance bonuses,” he said.  

In terms of the approved budget the total operating revenue for 2017/2018 is R684,339 million, which represents an increase of 7,03 % when compared to the 2016/17 adjustments budget.

Funding for the budget will be obtained from various sources but primarily from service charges such as electricity, water, sanitation, the Environmental Management Fee (EMF) and refuse collection (54.08 %), property rates (23,46 %), grants and subsidies from national and provincial government (16,69%).

The following tariff increases were approved:

  • Property rates 8%
  • Water 9,5%
  • Sanitation 9%
  • Refuse 9%
  • Electricity (average increase in income) 2,05%
  • EMF 6%

Mayor Van Lingen said another first for Kouga was that certain tariffs would be decreased in the new financial year in line with community inputs.

“Previously disadvantaged communities asked for reductions in the cost to hire halls and sports facilities, as well as cemetery and burial-related tariffs. We have, consequently, reduced these tariffs by 20% in line with our commitment to compile a pro-poor budget,” she said.

The total operating expenditure has increased by R49,302 million from R695,540 million in 2016/17 to R744,842 million in 2017/18. This represents a 7,09 % increase.

The capital budget is R59,68 million, which is R8,7 million or 12,73 % less than the 2016/17 adjustments budget. It will be funded from government grants and subsidies, as well as from internal funding.

The Mayor said the dilapidated condition of the municipality’s electrical infrastructure, water and sanitation, roads and stormwater drainage was a major challenge.

“In order to start addressing this, an amount of R42-million, which equates to 5,65% of the total operating budget, has been allocated for repairs and maintenance,” she said. “An additional R2-million of the EMF has further been earmarked for maintenance and upgrades to beachfront areas.”

She said that while the repairs and maintenance budget was below Council’s target of 8%, it was decided that it made more financial sense to replace vehicles that are no longer functional instead of spending enormous amounts on trying to repair them.

A total of R 8,8 million has been approved for the purchase of new vehicles.

She said Council was also of the view that service delivery was being hampered by the organogram, with staff costs representing 34,37% of the total operating expenditure.

“Aligning the organogram to the needs of the institution will be a key focus area of our new municipal manager, whose appointment is currently being finalised,” the Mayor said.

“The new staff budget of R 256,022 million will cater for an organogram designed to take the institution forward. A work place study and skills audit will also form part of this process.”

She said the biggest capital project on the new budget was the multi-year upgrade of the Kruisfontein Waste Water Treatment Plant at Humansdorp, where R15,225 million would be spent in the new financial year.

“The upgrade is necessary to cater for the housing project that is in an advanced stage of planning for the area,” she said.

She said Council would also be addressing the underspending of the capital budget by certain directorates.

“The Budget Monitoring and Evaluation Committee will be meeting monthly in the 2017/18 financial year to ensure we do not face a similar problem in the future.

The new budget and IDP will be available for perusal on the municipal website at www.kouga.gov.za, as well as at municipal offices and libraries.

Press Release: Laura-Leigh Randall,