Newcastle Mayor, Cllr Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba officially presented the Newcastle Municipality’s annual budget for 2020/2021 on Monday evening, June 29.
Themed as “The People’s Budget”, Dr Mahlaba addressed residents on radio and via live streaming on the Newcastle Municipality’s Facebook page.
“Funds allocated to all municipalities belong to the people, not specific individuals, nor to friends of officials, nor to officials or any particular businessperson,” he emphasised
As a result, these funds are allocated to develop the community and improve the living conditions of all our people.
Furthermore, Dr Mahlaba emphasised that the misconception that the municipality is a place for individuals to enrich themselves, must be brought to an abrupt halt.
“Those who have lived off the municipal coffers, must now know that those days are long gone. Madam Speaker; let me remind this August House that such unethical behaviour that has plagued this municipality for many years will never return. Municipal funds belong to our residents as a collective and each and every community member must benefit in one way or another, mainly in the form of effective and efficient service delivery.”
With this mind, Dr Mahlaba says the Newcastle Municipality has made tough decisions over the past year. Decisions which are apparently for the best of the community.
“Our responsibility should be premised on the improvement of the quality of lives of our people, as we advance towards a society that is currently experiencing socio-economic challenges. Hence, ours is to provide water and sanitation, construct more roads in eMadadeni, Osizweni, Normandien, Charles Town, Blaauwbosch, Ngogo and every other corner of this beautiful municipal area.”
Dr Mahlaba further adds that the ANC, has declared this year as the “Year of Unity, Socio-Economic Renewal and Nation Building.”
“Newcastle Local Municipality is thus committed to adhering to nation building and providing services to all, regardless of colour, gender, and creed or political affiliation.”
As youth month comes to an end, Dr Mahlaba reminded residents that the freedom we enjoy today did not come very easily.
“Young people your age died under the hand of the merciless security forces. They died…. Parents lost future breadwinners… parents lost future doctors, future engineers, future teachers, future politicians, future activists and future lawyers.”
Furthermore, Dr Mahlaba says the municipality is a firm believer of affording young people opportunities which were a distant dream for their parents.
“Madam Speaker, it is for this reason that that this municipality has set aside R650 000 towards the municipal bursary program. It is also for this reason that the municipality has included the youth among those who are prioritized for employment opportunities.”
The Newcastle Municipality has also set up a Youth Council to deliberate and involve young people in the administrative decisions taken by the municipality.
Building up to the budget, Dr Mahlaba reflected on the municipality’s success over the past year.
These successes included the following:
- The Newcastle Municipality embarking on the Keeping Newcastle Clean Campaign. An initiative which saw the municipality and residents get involved in cleaning Newcastle.
- To date, the Newcastle Municipality has built 329 houses for the indigent, through the housing program. This program was aimed at restoring dignity for first-time homeowners. These households have access to clean water, sanitation and refuse removal.
- The municipality is currently in the process of electrifying 500 households. An initiative which will be completed next month.
- The Newcastle Municipality has also given 9000 indigent households free basic water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal. “This is yet another clear indication that this municipality understands the daily struggles faced by many of our residents, in particular, the unemployed and previously disadvantaged,” Dr Mahlaba said.
- The payment factor of the municipality has increased from 75% to about 83%.
- 786 EPWP jobs were created to tackle the high number of unemployment within this municipality.
- 189 title deeds have been transferred through the EEDBS program. A majority of these beneficiaries are first-time homeowners.
- 7 kilometres of roads have been resealed within the jurisdiction of Newcastle Municipality. · We have accelerated our efforts and response time to addressing potholes as part of “making potholes a thing of the past” campaign.
- The mayor’s office has awarded 50 bursaries to university and tertiary institution hopefuls as part of a program to uplift the youth.
But what are the plans for the upcoming year?
Dr Mahlaba says the total consolidated budget for the 2020/21 financial year is R2.5 billion. This is made up of R2.4 billion which has been allocated for the operational budget, while R125.5 million has been allocated for capital projects (new projects).
Dr Mahlaba explained the National Treasury’s MFMA circulars were used to guide the compilation of the 2020/21 budget. Furthermore, the budget format and the content incorporates the requirements of the Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations.
The Operational Budget will be used as follows:
- R126 million has been allocated for bulk water purchase.
- R534 million has been allocated for bulk electricity purchase.
- R593 million has been allocated for Employee related costs
- R420 million has been allocated for depreciation
- R185 million has been allocated for debt impairment
- R183 million has been allocated for other expenditure
- R41 million has been allocated for interest loans
- R95 million has been allocated for repairs and maintenance
- R28 million remuneration of councillors.
- R16 million Contracted services
Newcastillians can expect electricity tariffs to increase by 6.22%. This will see revenue increase by R20.3 million.
Water tariffs will increase by 5% in the 2020/2021 financial year. The increase of 5% in tariffs is expected to generate additional revenue of R10.9 million.
Refuse removal tariffs will increase by 5% in the 2020/21 financial year. The increase of 5% in tariffs is expected to generate an additional revenue of R12.4 million.
Property rates tariffs are expected to increase by 5% in the 2020/21 financial year, while the impermissible amount will remain at R85 000. The increase in the property rates tariffs is expected to generate an additional revenue of R28.3 million.
Sanitation tariffs will increase by 5% in the 2020/21 financial year. The increase of 5% is expected to generate additional revenue of R6.7 million.
The Capital Budget will be used for numerous projects which will be implemented over the medium term by the municipality. The projects include:
- R1.5 million will be allocated for the construction of ablution facilities in all cemeteries.
- R300 000 will be set aside for the construction of Admin Building at Fort Amiel Museum
- R50 000 will go towards the purchasing of Art works.
- Construction of a number of roads, which will assist the community
- Construction of H39 Bus Road and Street Lighting, which will cost R6 000 000
- Resealing of roads Newcastle Residential Area, which will cost R2 500 000
- The resealing of roads Newcastle West will cost R3 500 000
- Resealing of Roads Madadeni will cost R2 000 000
- Resealing of Roads Osizweni will cost R2 000 000
- Construction of Speed Humps will cost 2 000 000
Furthermore, Dr Mahalba says it is the municipality’s goal to ensure every household has access to clean water and sanitation.
Therefore, the municipality will implement the following projects in a bid to address improved access to basic water and sanitation.
- The construction phase for the upgrade of Madadeni Waste Water Treatment Plant, which will cost R16 000 000
- The construction phase of Viljoen park Bulk Water and Sanitation will cost R8 000 000
- Blaauwbosch Bulk Water Supply will cost R9 000 000
Furthermore, Dr Mahlaba says the Newcastle Municipality is aware it has a water loss of 52%, due to ageing infrastructure, and illegal connections.
“We are therefore implementing the following projects to ensure that water loss will be reduced by at least 2% per annum.”
- Pipe Replacement and Upgrade will cost R10 000 000, this project is intended to reduce water loss.
- Osizweni Water Pressure Management System will cost R10 000 000, this project is intended to reduce water loss.
To improve the lives of certain community members, the Municipality will also ensure that the following projects are completed by June 2021:
- Construction of 741 new houses. These will be built in Charles Town, H39 and Siyahlala La
- Transfer of 100 title deeds.
- The release of 25 residential sites for sale.
- The electrification of 500 households.
- Connection of water and sanitation in 741 new households.
- The finalisation and submission of Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the establishment of a new Cemetery.
- The finalisation and submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the establishment of a new Landfill Site.
With a substantial amount of work lined up for the year, what are your thoughts on the budget speech? Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.