Cape Town - Nearly 100 key safety and security jobs - firefighters, metro police, law enforcement and traffic officers - with a combined value of about R19 million are on the line as the City of Cape Town looks for ways to balance its 2014/15 budget.
The city’s budget committee needs to tighten its belt so it can balance the 2014/15 budget, but a third of the 296 posts proposed for cutting across all directorates come from safety and security.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith has raised concern about the proposed staff cuts and the impact they could have on the city’s ability to deal effectively with complaints and maintain levels of service.
Many high-level posts are on the line, including the position of assistant chief of law enforcement and security, five senior firefighter positions and two senior inspectors in law enforcement. But the belt-tightening will also affect the city’s staff on the ground, as 15 posts for metro police constables and eight traffic officer positions could be slashed.
The mayoral committee was supposed to have approved the nearly 300 job cuts on Tuesday, but deputy mayor Ian Neilson said it would not consider the proposed safety and security cuts until it had received a report from this directorate. The recommendations would then go to the council at the end of the month for approval.
The committee therefore only approved two thirds of proposed cuts that will affect community services, planning, finance, human settlements, transport, and utility services. The position of deputy city manager also falls away, as does the position of protocol officer in the office of the mayor.
Smith said the situation in his directorate could have been worse, as staff cuts to the value of R30m were initially on the cards. This would have meant almost double the number of jobs were on the line before safety and security was given an additional R12m with the adjusted budget. But jobs would still have to be dropped to make the city’s books balance.
Smith said factors including the growing number of residents, and the lower debt collection ratio meant the city needed to look at its staffing costs.
“The city’s budget is unaffordable. The city is growing, but the rates base is not.” The city could not keep pace with inflation costs, and more money was being spent on fuel, essential maintenance and other costs.
Smith said many metro police officers were becoming eligible for their 10-year advancement increase, which was placing additional strain on the directorate’s operating budget. Safety and security’s operating budget for 2014/15 is R1.6 billion and its capital budget is at R70m.