Despite objections from taxpayers, opposition political parties and activist groups, the DA-led city approved what has been called “exorbitant” municipal tariffs.
The City was also warned that the increases, which would take effect on July 1, would put it out of reach for many.
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) adviser Grant Haskin said the “exorbitant” increases in tariffs and services charged to taxpayers this year would make Cape Town “unaffordable”.
Around 70% of public comments received during the public participation process on the 2021/22 draft budget were related to affordability of charges and service delivery issues, particularly with regard to water , sanitation and electricity.
Haskin said the city spent millions of rand on debt collector lawyers to “harass and intimidate” taxpayers for what they couldn’t afford and ultimately write off the debt while claiming it was for alleviate economic hardship.
“About R37 million are allocated to 13 law firms for the collection of debts owed to the city. The way to alleviate the economic hardship is to make the fees more affordable to make the money available,” Haskin said. .
The city’s budget for the current fiscal year totaled R 56.6 billion.
Water and sanitation tariffs will increase by 5%, garbage removal by 3.5% and the electricity tariff will increase by 13.48%.
Freedom Front Plus adviser Erika Botha-Rossouw also rejected the new tariffs and called for the removal of the pipe or the fixed base charge for water and sanitation.
She said in the aftermath of the impending zero day, when the taps had to go dry and associated water restrictions, water use had plummeted, but there had been no reduction in tariffs from the water.
She also called for a review of property prices.
“We all know property values in Cape Town are over-inflated. Rates should be based on household income and not on property value. The middle class cannot afford excessive and inflated rates. sells her homes and moves to rural towns across the province, ”Botha-Rossouw said.
The ANC also rejected the new tariffs and described the budget as nothing more than an “election budget”.
In their comments, taxpayers described the increases as “unacceptable and absurd”.
The two departments that received the largest budget allocations were Water and Waste, and Energy and Climate Change.
Mayor Dan Plato said the two departments took just over half of the total operational budget.
R4.6 billion has been allocated to the Directorate of Safety and Security and R4.2 billion has been allocated to community services and health.
Haskin also questioned the inability to support some of the city’s iconic events that had made a significant contribution to Cape Town’s international status and economy.
These included Africa Travel Week, Baxter Theater, Artscape, Cape Malay Choir, Cape Town Opera & Philharmonic, Two Oceans Marathon and Toy Run.
“Why is the city not committing to multi-year funding,” he demanded and questioned the “dumping” of around R50 million at “unnamed and unattributed events” , but no details were given.
Regarding financial support for projects to fight hunger, he questioned the interrupted support for Ikamva Labantu and the peninsula feeding program.
Haskin said that despite a request to neighborhood councilors not to hold events because these were considered high profile events during the Covid-19 pandemic, many neighborhood councilors have ignored such a request.
“Well over R 1 million has been allocated to multiple public functions, as well as constituency ambassadors,” Haskin said.
“These allowances are nothing more than jobs for AD party cronies,” Haskin accused.
The city also criticized the public participation process which some councilors called “undemocratic” and “elitist” because many poor residents were not included.
Haskin also criticized the city for the “low levels” of public participation processes as well as the 60-day public comment period for the seventh consecutive year granted to residents, adding that the city had never implemented a pledge. that she had done a few years ago to revamp the question.
“The only reasonable explanation for the DA’s conduct is that it would prefer to let residents remain in the dark and residents have a low level of understanding of the budgeting process and budget allocations,” Haskin.
The activist group STOP COCT questioned the quality and analysis of the comments received during the public participation process.
Group spokeswoman Sandra Dickson said not only were the comments chosen at random, but some, especially those from the activist group, were excluded from the list released by COCT.
“If the COCT is to maintain its claim of trust and transparency, then we challenge them to make the input data database available. This should include emails from the public, website, phone calls and comments received at Ward’s meetings, ”Dickson said. .