How Nd­lambe bal­anced its bud­get

Talk of the Town - - Opinion - CECIL MBOLEKWA, Nd­lambe se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer

ONE of the gen­eral prin­ci­ples un­der­ly­ing a mu­nic­i­pal bud­get is to en­sure af­ford­abil­ity and ser­vice de­liv­ery.

The bud­get process pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage the stake­hold­ers in fi­nal­is­ing the bud­get. Of­fi­cials are more likely to be am­bi­tious dur­ing bud­get prepa­ra­tion process, but the en­gage­ment process as­sist in de­vel­op­ing a bud­get that ad­dresses the real is­sues within a mu­nic­i­pal area.

The tabled bud­get with R100m deficit is a re­flec­tion of what the of­fi­cials wish to achieve for Nd­lambe Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Nd­lambe’s op­er­at­ing bud­get is funded through three main rev­enue sources: sur­plus from our trad­ing ser­vices, prop­erty rates and rev­enue from mis­cel­la­neous ex­penses.

The bulk of ex­penses, ad­min­is­tra­tion, salaries and roads are funded from the prop­erty rates. The tabled deficit is an ex­cess to the an­tic­i­pated prop­erty rates. Bal­anc­ing the bud­get from R100m deficit could not have been achieved with­out a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment and con­sid­er­a­tion of stake­hold­ers’ in­put, par­tic­u­larly the Nd­lambe Ratepayer Fo­rum (NRF).

Tabling the bud­get at 6.4% was to show the predica­ment that we may find our­selves in if were to adopt bud­get at that in­cre­ment. The of­fi­cials and the fi­nance port­fo­lio coun­cil­lor, coun­cil­lor [Ray] Schenk, went to great lengths in ex­plain­ing to the NRF the con­se­quences any in­crease lower than 9%. De­spite the view ex­pressed by the NRF on the adopted bud­get, Nd­lambe bud­get com­mit­tee would like to thank the NRF for the valu­able in­puts dur­ing the en­gage­ment process fol­lowed on tabled bud­get.

A num­ber of com­ments had been made on the adopted bud­get by the var­i­ous par­ties. I would like to ad­dress some of these is­sues and any ad­di­tional re­sponses re­quired may be fol­lowed up with mu­nic­i­pal com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment. Such cor­rec­tions are made with an un­der­stand­ing of the chal­lenge posed by the in­tro­duc­tion of mSCOA, which im­pacts on cost clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

Nd­lambe’s ca­sual labour bud­get is linked to two fac­tors: Nd­lambe Mu­nic­i­pal area has grown with­out staff ad­di­tions and staff ter­mi­na­tion for var­i­ous rea­sons was de­lib­er­ately slowed down in non-key po­si­tions. More than av­er­age ca­sual in­take is in De­cem­ber-Jan­uary, due to the sea­sonal in­flux to keep the towns clean and at­tend to stressed in­fra­struc­ture. The great­est con­trib­u­tor to over­time is ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture and our fleet.

Ratepay­ers have raised a con­cern on an amount bud­geted for com­put­ers, re­ported to [be] R4.5m. It must be noted that com­put­ers are funded from both op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal bud­get, [and] for 2018/2019 fi­nan­cial [year] the amount is R286,186, not R4.5m. Where ar­eas of con­cern arise, such con­cerns will be ad­dressed through pre­scribed pro­cesses.

Cur­rent em­ployee costs are at 40% in­stead of the trea­sury norm of 35%. It must be noted that salary in­cre­ments are de­ter­mined by the Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil, [and] at the time of bud­get ap­proval no agree­ment was reached be­tween Salga [SA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion] and Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil on the in­cre­ment. The fac­tored in­cre­ment [is a] con­ser­va­tive-likely sce­nario. Sec­tion 56 and coun­cil­lor salaries are reg­u­lated, while coun­cil­lor salaries are de­ter­mined in terms of the gazette on up­per lim­its.

Of­fi­cials have very lit­tle in­flu­ence on salary mat­ters.

De­spite our lim­ited re­sources, pru­dent spend­ing and cash man­age­ment, an amount has been set aside for up­grad­ing of Bis­cay Road in Port Al­fred, pur­chase of two one-ton LDVs, an A cube refuse com­pactor and two 6,000l san­i­ta­tion trucks. In ad­di­tion an amount R197,000 was spent on small plant and equip­ment.

Dur­ing the IDP/Bud­get im­bi­zos, a num­ber projects are re­quested and in­cluded in the IDP de­spite not be­ing able to fund them. Ad­min­is­tra­tion al­ways en­deav­ours to see such projects im­ple­mented de­spite the fund­ing lim­i­ta­tions. A com­mit­ment to ser­vice our com­mu­ni­ties led to mo­bil­i­sa­tion of funds through the LED depart­ment. Such ef­forts saw a com­mit­ment from DEAT [depart­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs and tourism] to the value of R10m to a num­ber [of] en­vi­ron­men­tal re­lated projects in Nd­lambe area. This is ex­pen­di­ture out­side our bud­get but with a ben­e­fit ac­cru­ing to Nd­lambe.

We be­lieve that the adopted bud­get is more of ser­vice de­liv­ery bud­get due to the oper­a­tional [bud­get] be­ing the great­est por­tion of the bud­get. Last week’s fea­ture on Com­pu­care had a few er­rors that need to be cor­rected. First, Com­pu­care is sit­u­ated on South­well Road, not Al­bany Road as stated. Also, Candice Naude han­dles sales and en­quiries for the com­pany. We apol­o­gise for any prob­lems caused.

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