via Council adopts 2015 budget…tariffs go up by 4% – Radio Dialogue October 23, 2014 by Lesley Moyo
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has adopted a $158 million 2015 budget with tariffs set to be increased by a marginal 4 percent, as the local authority strives to improve service delivery.
The proposed expenditure budget is pegged at $107 million and the capital budget at $51 million.
This will be the first time in two years that council has proposed to increase tariffs.
Announcing the proposed budget at a special meeting on Thursday, Chairperson of the Finance Committee, Councillor James Sithole, said the council’s budget performance over the years has been affected by various factors.
“The economy is still characterised by low aggregate demand, low wages, low productivity and high levels of unemployment. These factors unfortunately, have a negative impact on council’;s budget performance as residents and companies are finding it difficult to settle their bills on time,” Councillor Sithole said.
Council embarked on two budget consultation exercises, in August and September, where residents and other stakeholders were given an opportunity to contribute to the crafting of next year’s budget.
During the consultation meetings, in the city’s 29 wards, council officials presented a two budget proposals, one was pegged at $102.6 million with no increase in tariffs while the other proposal pegged the expenditure budget at $107.2 million with a 4% tariff increase.
In both scenarios, the capital budget was set at $50 million.
Councillor Sithole, revealed that residents were in support of the latter budget, which will see each household forking a maximum of about $2 more in rates.
“Of the 29 wards, 21 accepted the 4% increase proposal, 7 wards opted for a standstill budget and one ward indicated they will go with the majority. The 4% increase which balances the budget at $107.2 million was adopted as the proposed budget.
“Your worship, council needs funding in order to improve services to its residents as some infrastructure need complete refurbishment and replacement. This means council has to look for alternative ways of funding such as Public-Private Partnership,” said Sithole.
He said the marginal increase in tariffs was brought about by the high cost of inputs, such as fuel and the demand of improved service delivery by residents.
The City Hall and Tower Block which house council offices are powered by generators, after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) disconnected electricity supplies due to huge debt.
“The council therefore is recommending a marginal increase in tariffs of 4% with effect from 1 January 2015. While the proposed increase will mean ratepayers paying more for services, it is intended to improve service delivery,” said Sithole.
The proposed capital budget, will fund the replacement of obsolete machinery.
“This budget seeks to replace plant and related equipment that are used in the servicing of stands, road construction, acquisition of service motor vehicles and medical equipment.
“Council infrastructure such as roads, sewer systems and water reticulation systems has outlived their life span and require rehabilitation,” Sithole said.
“Council intends to build community facilities such as schools, youth centres and libraries for new suburbs.”
Sithole also urged residents to settle their bills on time to enable the local authority to prove quality service.
The budget will now be submitted to government for approval.