Kouga communities can look forward to improved service delivery this year owing to the ongoing success of the local municipality’s financial recovery plan.
This is according to an announcement from the municipality today. The recovery plan was introduced a year ago by Kouga Executive Mayor, Booi Koerat, after he was elected to take charge and find solutions to the financial woes that faced Kouga Municipality at the time.
Koerat says the municipality’s financial position has been improving steadily over the past year. “The previous Council left us with massive debt, but we were able to decrease this by more than R20-million within the first ten months.
“While we haven’t reached the end of the tunnel yet, the light at the end is growing stronger every day,” he says, adding that the municipality will be implementing further cost-saving measures in the new financial year so more money can be unlocked for service delivery.
“Clamping down on staff-related costs continues to be a priority. Even stricter overtime controls have been introduced and we will be cutting down on vehicle and cellular phone allowances as well,” he says.
“We also have to make the tough decision at the end of June 2012 not to renew the contracts of 174 of our workers. While it was heart-wrenching to do so, it was unavoidable. We are the custodians of this region and have to do what is best for service delivery and our communities as a whole.”
Koerat says he does not want to see Kouga’s people shoulder the burden for the municipality’s financial problems. “That’s why Council refused to increase Kouga’s tariffs to the same extent other municipalities facing similar financial challenges have done,” he says.
“Many local residents are already struggling to pay their municipal accounts, and we are not willing to put further pressure on them. It is up to Council and the municipal administration to continue seeking solutions internally.”
He points out Kouga’s rates and tariff increases compare well to those of its neighbour, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. “Nelson Mandela Bay has increased its rates, as well as its tariffs for refuse removal, sanitation and water by 13%. In contrast Kouga residents will be paying only 5,9% more for rates, 6% more for refuse removal, 9% more for sanitation and 12% more for water. The average electricity tariff increase for domestic users in Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay is that same at 11,03%.”
Koerat maintains the rise in cost, especially of bulk services such as water and electricity, has been unavoidable because Kouga purchased water and electricity Nelson Mandela Bay and Eskom. “We assure residents Council will continue keeping rates and tariffs as low as possible while we nurse Kouga back to an institution that is financially strong and capable of delivering service excellence to all,” he adds.