Comparison reveals need for revision
THIS week’s Herald exposé of comparative municipal rates can only be the tip of the iceberg, and further highlights the need for a complete revision of the system. There are old truisms that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” and “committees of one get things done”.
In the current municipal structure, every rule of good management is ignored. There is an impossibly large council (the board of the enterprise) whose only function is to guide policy and oversee integrity, but some of whose members now interfere in line management to achieve their own objectives, often with criminal intent, and, worst of all, with apparent impunity.
This kind of disruption can only destroy staff morale and initiative while severely increasing costs and limiting service delivery.
Within departments, it seems that no decisions can be taken by their heads even on small matters, such as writing off a 14-year-old R3.50 library debt to a person now of unknown address. Just the monthly invoice for this pittance exceeds the original value of the fine. This in spite of being advised.
On larger matters, we are informed that the ANC-led council incurred R87-million in costs to do the last valuation, while the DA-led council managed to do the job for R12-million. While our new council leaders have improved the numbers, I would suggest that both figures are excessive if they are “add on”, since the town planning department should be running up-to-the-minute analyses of market information in the course of normal business.
A table of comparison of rates is meaningless without reference to population numbers, staffing levels and each department’s expenditure detail to identify performance disparities in those listed.
Revenue sources need also to be compared for the same reason, because there must be lessons to be learned from those municipalities that entice business and homeowners to invest in their cities.
The existing status here is stalling the economy, as evidenced by empty commercial buildings, strangled thoroughfares and low values achieved in property sales.
Valdy Jensen, Port Elizabeth