Money matters

Peter Stenslunde, Constantia Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association

According to a budget briefing by the City held at the Alphen hall on Thursday April 19, they plan to write off R2.9bn of revenue for the forthcoming financial year 2018/2019 (page 3 of the proposed budget).

This represents 30% of the entire rates base – commercial and residential or 7.4% of the entire budget of R39bn.

The directorates that are largely responsible are Law Enforcement (R854m) and Water and Sanitation (R921m) (pages 150 and 1473 of the budget).

Yet at the budget meeting, we were told that the City is doing everything in its power to reduce costs. The Law Enforcement budget item relates to a write off of fines not paid.

We have been advised for the last three years running that the City will employ its own legal resources to pursue these fines and that “things are getting better”. Clearly they are not. Unpaid fines have been hovering around 75% for the last five years, at least amounting to R4.5bn of revenue in present value terms – not to mention all the resources deployed in issuing them.

Water and Sanitation writes off 18% (R921m) of its entire revenue. This has been the same amount for the last five years at least and in present value terms amounts to R5bn. When the question was posed to (mayoral committee member) Xanthea Limberg as to why the City writes off such astronomical amounts of money, she responded that she was unsure what it related to and appeared to not know the extent of the problem.

This is surprising and it raises the questions; how is it that the person in charge does not know why 18% of her department’s revenue is written off and who exactly is responsible? Who funds this? Why has this not been disclosed to rate-paying residents?

It seems that ratepayers (400 000 of us) continue to pay for all and every shortcoming of good governance.

Our ward councillors, who generally ignore our queries, also appear not to have a clue as to these write-offs and we now know that the mayoral coommittee members in charge are apparently also in the dark. What is desperately needed are councillors who serve the interests of the people who voted them in.