BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council has been forced to reduce the proposed increase in rates for the 2022 budget from 216% to 200%.
This was revealed yesterday by mayor Solomon Mguni, who described the move as a “compromise” after residents objected to the initial proposals.
The local authority recently held 2021 budget review meetings and 2022 budget consultations where it proposed a budget of over $24 billion for next year.
Mguni said budget, general purposes and finance and development committees agreed to review downwards the rates percentage increase following objections by stakeholders.
“It is through these debates (consultations) that we came to a compromised consensus to move the city forward. You may need to know that the 216% increment did not fall from a tree. These are figures that the financial services department came up with, and with the economic projections and outlook for 2022,” Mguni told Southern Eye yesterday.
“It was now up to residents; through consultations, to guide us on the level of services they want for their city. What came out of the consultation process was that 216% was on a high side. This is what informed the budget committee to review the budget to 200%.”
The proposal to reduce the increase for rates was adopted by a special council meeting held on Tuesday.
Mguni said council was in a fix in trying to craft a pro-poor budget at the expense of service delivery.
He said the local authority was seeking to widen its revenue streams beyond billing residents.
“We have a choice to either craft a people-centred budget or craft a service delivery-centred budget. All we are saying is that this increment will ensure that we continue providing services to our residents and keep council afloat.
“We are not just seeking to rely on ratepayers. We are widening our revenue streams and very soon. We shall be relieving the burden on ratepayers through the automated parking management to be rolled out early next year. We will be assured of 30% of the net gains therefrom.
“We have increased licensing fees by around 300% so that we derive maximum fees from business.
“We need to collect more in terms of our miscellaneous fees and payments for over-the-counter services for instance, leases; approval of plans and so forth. For leases, we have used hard currency as a base currency.”