Bulawayo residents brace for massive rates hike

17 Nov, 2019 - 00:11 0 Views
Bulawayo residents brace for massive rates hike Bulawayo City Council

The Sunday News

Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter

THE Bulawayo City Council reportedly got no objections to its 2019 supplementary budget and 2020 budget projections and have since forwarded the two to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works for final determination.

This means residents will over the coming couple of months — if the budget is approved — have to endure a rate increase of 716 percent divided between the two budgets. According to an update report posted to councillors by the local authority’s director of financial services, Mr Kimpton Ndimande at the close of the objection period on 25 October, the local authority received no objection to the rates and rental increases.

“In line with the Urban Councils Act, I hereby submit a report on the status of the 2019 second supplementary revenue and capital budget and the proposed revenue and capital budget for year 2010, after the closure of the objection period on 25 October 2019. At the close of the objection period, council had not received any objections from ratepayers. In view of this, council has submitted to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works the 2019 second supplementary budget and the proposed 2020 revenue and capital budgets,” reads part of the report.

According to the Urban Councils Act, a budget statement is subject for review if at least 30 residents register their objection to it.

The Act reads; “If a statement has been advertised within the period stipulated of 30 days objections to the proposed tariffs, charges or deposits are lodged by 30 or more persons who are voters or who are users of the services to which the tariff, charges or deposit relates. Whether there are less than 30 such users of services concerned but not less that 50 per centum of the number of such users, such tariffs, charges or deposits shall be recommended by the council, together with the objections so lodged, and they shall not come into operation unless resolution is again passed by a majority of the total membership of the council.”

According to a council confidential report, the local authority is pushing for an initial immediate 300 percent increment before further increasing the rates by a further 416 percent in January as part of its 2020 budget projections. This will, however, be not the end of the ballooning rates as the local authority has already stated that these rate will be further reviewed in June 2020.

The report states that while some councillors noted that the budgetary increments were rejected by a majority of residents the proposed rates will, however, carry forth after being endorsed by a joint sitting of the finance and development committee and the general purposes committee.

The local authority recently resolved to set up a crisis committee, comprising of the finance and development and general purposes committee, that will be responsible of monitoring budget performance and take any action inclusive of rates increase without consulting residents, with the chamber secretary, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou, revealing that this was a strategy that was also implemented during the 2007-2008 financial year. The setting up of this committee means council does not have to continuously consult residents as the crisis committee would just increase the service charges without consultations.

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