Budget Oversight Report to Councillors

Dear Members,

The Ratepayers’ Association has sent the attached oversight report to the Bitou councillors.  We are meeting with the mayor and municipal manager next week and will report to you afterwards.

The summary of our report is below.

Bitou Councillors,

In the performance of our statutory duty and right as citizens to participate in governance generally, and the budget process specifically, we have compiled a budget oversight report for your attention and action.

In essence our report requires that the municipality must focus its budget on providing basic services – affordably and sustainably – to all the citizens it serves as an absolute priority.

In order to achieve this statutory obligation, the municipality must, beginning with this budget, invoke a high level of cost containment and strictly monitor same on a daily basis.

It goes without saying that it is impossible to achieve the above in the absence of a budget based on hard facts and reality.  The budget as it stands and presented to you for approval clearly does not come anywhere near providing you with a suitable basis to take the correct decisions, closely monitor progress and enforce accountability and comply with your legal obligations as councillors.

We are concerned and deeply disappointed that the budget, as it stands, fails to address critical issues but instead is no more than just another copy and paste version unimaginatively and thoughtlessly following the trend set by ill-conceived budgets in the immediate past.

In summary, our report shows that you must adopt a realistic budget allowing council to:

  • implement strict cost containment measures, primarily in employee-related costs;
  • increase expenditure on the repair/maintenance of infrastructure that has been neglected over the years in the short term;
  • provide for replacing, upgrading and building new infrastructure which the growth projections show are long overdue. We need look no further than Eskom to see the inevitable result when leadership fails to attend to these realities.
  • reduce expenditure on contracted services, legal services, etc;
  • aim for a ZERO increase in tariffs, in the interest of each and every citizen, especially the poor, whom you serve and owe a duty of care to.
  • It is clear that the cost of services, to a significant portion of the community you serve, is simply unaffordable. Together with the obviously unrealistically expensive tariffs, council’s policies have buried a large portion of our citizens under a growing mountain of “debt” effectively destroying their creditworthiness for ever and robbing them of an essential means of living and their human dignity.  It must be stopped, and a proper budget is the manifest first step which must be taken, now.

We wish you strength and wisdom with the massive task that you face in turning Bitou Municipality around, a task which can no longer be delayed.
We welcome a meeting with the mayor and municipal manager to discuss our report and solicit responses as soon as possible.

Peter Gaylard

View Full 2022/2023 Oversight Report