Activists battle budget

Mayor Patricia de Lille. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

While the City of Cape Town’s proposed budget for 2018/19, tabled by Mayor Patricia de Lille on March 28, is being avidly perused by civic associations in the area, an activist group has slammed it for being “one-sided”.

Stop City of Cape Town (Stop COCT) says it will not allow the public participation process on the draft budget to be used as “an inconvenient tick box” to allow approval on a “one-sided and unfair” budget.

“Stop COCT will ensure the City of Cape Town does not violate the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and misuse this public participation to pass the budget,” its media statement said.

Sandra Dickson, one of the founders of Stop COCT, said if the water tariff was approved, the already steep Level 6B water tariff increases would grow by another 26.96%.

“The current Level 6b increases represented a 500% plus increase in water tariffs. These new increases effective from July 1 this year will add a further 83% increase to your water bill. Added to this steep increase is a levy starting at R56 per month based on the size of the pipe delivering water to homes. This levy is stepped up in increments based on the diameter of your supplying water pipe. A pipe of 15mm attracts a levy of R56 up to a maximum sized pipe of 300mm which will attract a levy of R2 500. This is a stark reminder of the drought charge based on property values which was rejected by the public in January this year,” said Ms Dickson.

The mayor has earmarked R9.8 billion for water and electricity bulk purchases from the Department of Water and Sanitation and Eskom, while R5 billion has been allocated to informal settlements, water and waste services, which is 54.9% of the capital budget, R1.7 billion for transport and urban development and R1.1 billion for energy.

Ratepayers will also pay a fixed charge for water based on their meter size, and seven restriction level tariffs.

Domestic customers will be moved to a home user tariff and those with a property valued at more than R1 million will have to fork out a R150 service charge.

Further tariff hikes include 7.2% in rates, 8.1% in electricity, 26.9% in sanitation and 5.7% in refuse

Ms De Lille also announced that R3 billion has been allocated to the social package of services to assist the poor. This increased from R2.7 billion in the current financial year. The social package provides financial relief to those who need it most.

The basic social package rebates are based on property values, and the total household income. These include:

Properties valued at
R100 000 and below qualify for 100% rates and refuse removal rebates. These residents also receive 10 500 litres of free water and 7 350 litres of free sanitation.

In properties valued above R100 000 and below R150 000, residents get a 100% rates rebate, 75% off refuse removal charges, 10 500 litres of free water and 7 350 litres of free sanitation.

Properties valued between R150 000 and R400 000 all receive 10 500 litres of free water, 7 350 litres of free sanitation and between 50% and 25% off their refuse removal charges.

There is also relief with electricity charges for consumers on the Lifeline tariff where consumption is on average 250 units per month, and these residents receive 60 units free per month. Where consumption is between 250 and 450 units, these households will receive 25 units free each month.

“The City also uses household income as a factor to determine which residents qualify for assistance,” she said. “Where the gross monthly household income is R4 000 or below, these households can get a 100% rates rebate and receive the same benefits as if their properties were valued below R100 000.”

Ratepayers have until 4.30pm on Friday May 4 to comment on the draft budget. Fill out a comment from online or deliver it to: The City Manager, 5th Floor Podium, Civic Centre, 12 Hertzog Boulevard,Cape Town. Post comments to: The City Manager, 2018-2019 IDP/Budget, Private Bag X9181, Cape Town, 8001, fax to 021 400 1332 or email budget.process2018@capetown.gov.za