2023/24 Bitou budget and new tariffsApril 17, 2023
Bitou Water Assessment ReportMay 4, 2023
Attached is a report by our engineering advisor, Bill Alexander which you may find of interest. He has been monitoring the solid waste department for a couple years and is sharing his professional expertise.
The questions he posed to the municipality in his report have been responded to in red type.
We are concerned about Bitou’s 17.2% proposed tariff increase for waste removal. This is in comparison to our neighbours, Knysna ( 6% ) and George (7%).
Bitou’s annual tariff is R4,671 compared to Knysna’s of R1,841. Such a large discrepancy raises concerns.
We have asked the municipality exactly how they arrived at the cost of service and the tariff figure and are awaiting their reply.
The mayor’s preface to the budget refers to a provision for future rehabilitation of the landfill site in Mossel Bay as one of the reasons. Yet we see no other town making such provisions in their budgets. Obviously making provisions for known future expenses is not a bad thing but one needs to know how the figure is arrived at, the conditions under which it is being held and when it will be required.
It is general knowledge that in the immediate past and currently, the garbage removal costs have been very high due to inefficiencies which Bill points out. We want to ensure that the budget and sharply increased tariffs do not accommodate the perpetuation of the inefficiencies but rather that the tariffs are in line with providing an efficient, cost effective and sustainable service, and that the tariffs are a true reflection of the real cost of providing that service.
The department is purchasing new vehicles and equipment which will hopefully eliminate the huge amounts of money that have had to be spent on plant hire and transport to overcome the poor vehicle management practices and which have resulted in the Department overspending their budget by 260% over the last year.
Equally obvious is that if the Waste Minimization Program, which council has already approved, is properly managed the volume of garbage being unnecessarily hauled to Mossel Bay will decrease dramatically which should translate into large savings on those operating costs.
It is essential that residents know exactly how the tariffs are made up, including such inter-governmental charges, subsidies, etc to be able to understand and trust their imposition.
In order for services to be affordable and sustainable the municipality MUST reduce costs at every level, and be seen to be doing so. The only way that that can be achieved is by careful zero-based budgeting.
Communicating openly, honestly and expeditiously about the good and the bad that emerges will go a long way to helping build trust.