Public Service No Longer Empowerment OpportunityNovember 14, 2022
Plett Ratepayers’ Year-end 2022 Reports Part 2December 11, 2022
As you may recall, we took a poll last February asking members if they would prefer the Plett Ratepayers’ AGM to be held in February/March rather than December, and the majority said they preferred the meeting to be held in the first quarter. We will notify you of the date in the new year.
We will, however, circulate our year-end portfolio reports to you in December. To make for easier reading, we will send them in three parts:
Part 1 – Chairman’s introduction, Town Planning, and Electricity
Part 2 – Waste, Sewerage, and Water
Part 3 – Airport and Council/legal issues
The Plett Ratepayers’ primary initiative this year has been the assessment of Bitou’s infrastructure and the future impact on it from a booming population growth, large-scale housing approvals, insufficient maintenance, and an ageing infrastructure exceeding its capacity limits. Our Infrastructure Assessment reports will be provided to you and Council in January.
One of the benefits of these assessments has been the discovery of various inefficiencies as well as potential cost reductions in delivery of the services. For example, 38% water losses amounting to roughly R20 million in lost revenue is unacceptable, as is 664 call-outs to fix water problems, amounting to millions in overtime cost.
Of significant concern has been the Council’s acknowledgement in August of their financial insolvency which is the result of their mounting debt, continued over-expenditure and persistent under recovery of revenues. Although the previous administration is largely to blame, it has been allowed to continue to deteriorate over the past year. For example, employee costs had risen to 39% of the operating budget, and rather than reducing it, Council voted in October to fill another 150 posts. Household debt is over R180 million. Council just wrote off R160 million of debt from irregular and unauthorized expenditure, with no recommendation for recovery or accountability.
Despite our best efforts to monitor the finances, and encourage strict austerity measures and expenditure disciplines, as well as our offers to assist, we have yet to receive a response to our recommendations and have seen inadequate efforts to rein in expenditures.
As a result, we will not accept large tariff increases next year to pay for these inefficiencies, but rather keep pressure on the municipality to do its job better, reduce costs, and streamline its operations in order to offset the need for tariff increases.
I hope you enjoy reading our reports, and I would like to thank the members of our Executive Committee who volunteer so much of their time to promote good governance in Bitou. As always, we appreciate your comments and questions, as an active and involved Ratepayer membership is critical to the positive impact we endeavour to have on our town.
View Stuart Comline’s – Town Planning End Of Year Report – Download Report
View Ken Goodenough’s – Electrical End Of Year Report – Download Report