The 2011/2012 final budget of R28.6bn was tabled and adopted at full Council on Thursday, 14th of April 2011. The City’s biggest budget yet, is geared towards sustainable transformation and development whilst heeding the plight of the poor. The final budget, comprising of a R23.5billion operating budget will ensure that the City is able to deliver basic services to communities, and a R5.1bn capital budget that will ensure the continuation of major infrastructure projects, aimed at improving the lives and building a legacy for the people and future generations.
The tariff increases adopted are as follows:
- Electricity – 19.8% (Eskom 26.7%)
- Water – Residential 7.5% and Business 12.5%
- Sanitation – 6.5%
- Solid Waste and Cleansing – 6.5%
- Rates and General – 6.5%
In the presentation of the final budget and the Mayoral State of the City Address Mayor, Obed Mlaba had echoed the words of the Nation’s President, Mr Jacob Zuma and that of the Province’s Primier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, in which 2011 was declared a year of job creation through meaningful economic transformation and inclusive growth. Mayor, Mlaba went on to say that the Municipality is still going to prioritise the elimination of backlogs in the delivery of basic services. He said ‘We have made great strides in trying to close the gap that exists in our communities. This budget will enable us to substantially break the back of poverty as we progressively extend quality services to all residents.’
He further said ‘as we take stock of the past ten years of service delivery and reflect on what we have managed to achieve, we are aware that our people are still faced with many challenges that require our attention. Unemployment, poverty, crime, the burden of disease and access to basic services remain major challenges.’
In short, over the past years the Municipality has made eliminating backlogs in basic service delivery a priority and strides have been made in addressing the service delivery backlog. In the area of water delivery, 91% of our households have water available within 200m of their dwelling. With respect to sanitation, 75% of the eThekwini households have access to at least the minimum level of sanitation. The figure for electricity service connections increases annually and currently there is a 98% coverage.
Refuse collection from the kerbside is a service offered to 100% of households, which means all homes, both within formal and informal areas, have a once-a-week collection. All businesses have a customised refuse removal service. The housing backlog as a proportion of current demand has decreased over the past financial years and the backlog is currently 364 493.
In terms of housing, approximately 150 000 housing units have been delivered over the past ten years, which is one of the best delivery records in the country. Of these, over 80-thousand houses were delivered in this current term. Over and above this the City has continued to provide basic social services to assist the poorest of the poor.
- Free 9kl of water.
- Free 65kwh electricity to residents using less than 150kwh per month.
- Property rates exemptions for first R120 000 of property value.
- Pensioners, child headed households, recipients of disability grants and medically boarded are exempt from the first R400 000 of property value.
- No rates are payable for first R30 000 of property value for vacant land.
The social package is funded mainly from the equitable share grant of R1.6 billion from national government.
The Budget for 2011/2012 made reference to the City’s major infrastructure layouts that will make a meaningful contribution towards relieving the unemployment challenge.
The first phase of the City’s biggest water pipeline project in fifty years is expected to be completed shortly. The R1.5 billion Western Aqueduct Project aims to meet the unprecedented growth in demand for water in the western and northern suburbs.
Phase two of the project is expected to be completed by 2012. In addition the Northern Aqueduct project will commence in the 2011/2012 financial year to cater for the expansion in the northern areas.
Another massive infrastructure project underway is the Mpumalanga New Town Centre development with phase one consisting of R30million bulk infrastructure to unlock the land for mixed use development. Phase two of the project comprises of the development of government facilities, public transport infrastructure and new housing units to cater for low and middle income groups. Cato Ridge, another focus area for commercial and industrial development. Some of the planned developments include a transport corridor from the dugout port, linking it to a new transition node in the area.
A high speed train between Durban and Johannesburg as well as a train service between Durban and Pietermaritzburg are also being considered as part of the R700 billion infrastructure spend by National Government. The Port of Durban is contributing enormously to the growth of the City’s economy. Regarding housing delivery, construction of the first phase of the R20 billion Cornubia development, which includes about 5000 housing units, will commence this year. This is a key flagship project for the City to accommodate a significant portion of the housing backlog and will incorporate the construction of 20 000 low and middle-income housing, schools, businesses, clinics and other infrastructure.
Tenders for the infrastructure outlay will be out next month. This project will be the home of the next major industrial area in the north of Durban and will be a linkage to the developments around the new King Shaka International Airport. On ending his presentation of the final budget Mayor, Obed Mlaba reiterated the importance of good Governance and wished his fellow Councillors a fruitful and peaceful campaigning for the upcoming elections.