The Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) plans to cut off water provision for government departments that owe a combined R78m, a matter that also negatively affects the budget of the institution as it struggles to meet its revenue collection projections.
CHDM mayor Wongama Gela revealed during a post council press briefing on Tuesday that the municipal manager, Gcobani Mashiyi, had signed no less than 300 notices of intention to cut off water for the departments and businesses in the past three weeks.
Gela indicated that a council meeting scheduled for last Wednesday was postponed after they received a communiqué from the provincial treasury department that their proposed budget for the 2020/21 financial year was declared unfunded.
“One of the reasons highlighted by treasury were that we had unrealistic revenue collection projections. The department indicated that we have been unable to collect revenue in line with our projections in the recent past and therefore had to cut down what we hoped to achieve this time around.”
The mayor said even though the municipality improved in their revenue collection strides in the second quarter compared with the first, they still had a long way to go to meet the projections in the budget.
“This means some of the interventions we have put in place are starting to bear fruit and we intend to accelerate that. We also need to prioritise revenue collection from the business sector, municipal employees, officials and councillors, even though the largest amount is owed by households.
“Once we have exhausted all avenues to try and recoup the money owed to us without success, we will have no choice but to cut them off.”
One department owes the municipality a massive R20m, with the overall household debt amounting to about R1.9bn, including interest.
Gela said he had no doubt that after their finance team had worked on the issues highlighted by treasury, most of which were related to the cutting down of finances in various directorates of the municipality, it would come back funded.
“The directorate heavily hit by the cuts is corporate services. This directorate encompasses a lot, including the operations of the municipality and salaries. We planned to purchase new computers but had to cut the budget for that.” The cuts also dealt a blow to plans to add more jetting machines to the ones envisaged for purchase earlier. This, in essence, means four less machines will have to be added.
Gela said some positives included the approval of their roll-over application for drought relief by co-operative governance and traditional affairs, which had since been appropriated accordingly.