Budget balancing act must be appreciated
When it comes to municipal budgets, expectations will always exceed the monies available.
This is a simple statement of fact; the pie can only be cut into so many slices, and every single request – however valid – cannot be met.
Both the King Cetshwayo District and the City of uMhlathuze presented their Draft Budgets last week, and had the unenviable task of trying to please everyone, all this against the persistent background of an ailing global and national economy.
This has meant a reduction in funding from central government, requiring a clampdown on any wasteful and unnecessary expenditure.
The drought has also proved extremely costly, especially for the District Municipality, with water delivery of necessity deviating funds from other projects.
Looking at it positively, however, the budgets have also been prepared in the context of renewed drives to ‘sell’ the country, province and region to investors, developers and tourists.
Hopefully this will spread more wealth in the near future.
At the outset, let us all acknowledge that both municipalities have performed excellently in recent audits and both have to date not been implicated in any dodgy dealings.
And again, both have made provision for all stakeholders, especially residents and ratepayers, to have input into the budgets, this via roadshows and public IDP meetings.
The process continues, with provision made for scrutiny of the budgets and additional comment into the final product.
As far as the budget contents goes, the focus continues to be on bridging the gap between the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have nots’.
To its credit, the City of uMhlathuze, in meeting its R3.5-billion budget was able to restrict service tariffs to 7%, making it affordable for most of its people while still allowing for infrastructure maintenance and development.
One trusts that residents, ratepayers and other stakeholders will take more than a passing interest in giving input to the final product, and will attend the various public participation meetings that will be announced.
After all, it is not ‘their’ budget, it is ‘our’ budget, and we need to take personal responsibility.