Cape Town - Capetonians are waiting with bated breath for the tabling of the 2022/23 draft budget by mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis on Thursday as it brings with it the annual tariff increases on electricity, water, property rates and refuse removal.
While Eskom has announced an increase of 9.61% on its electricity prices, expected to take effect on Friday, the City has been asked to be lenient towards ratepayers.
The draft budget document seen by the Cape Argus proposes an increase in electricity tariffs of 9.5%, water and sanitation both by 6.5%, refuse by 5%, and property rates by 5.2%.
Activist Hanif Loonat said he hoped that Hill Lewis did not forget how he fought the national government on the issue of electricity hikes.
Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said this was an opportunity for the City to positively adjust all the cutoff points for relief to pensioners, the indigent and other forms of relief to hard-pressed ratepayers.
Dickson said pensioners received only property rates relief at an income level of under of R17 500 a month, which she said had not been adjusted for two years.
“Also, the cut-offs to receive property rates relief had not kept pace with property valuations. Even an RDP property is now valued over R500 000, which makes the property-based cutoffs for relief out of reach for most on the lower end of the market,” she said.
Dickson said while the draft budget would be open for public comment during April, the City had during the last two years ignored public input and went ahead with its first proposed budget with no changes to tariffs or cut-off levels.
“The City asks for public input, but ignores it, which suggests that the public participation process during the budget is done because it is required by law. Every year the City fails to engage with the community, with the result of alienating them and the communication gap grows with each budget,” she said.
Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers association chairperson Osman Shabodien said any tariff increase would add to the huge burden residents already endured.
Bonteheuwel Ratepayers and Tenants Association chairperson Nadia Mayman said residents and tenants alike were under huge financial strain.
“We are just barely emerging from a pandemic that saw many livelihoods lost. We simply cannot afford increased levies and tariff hikes for water, electricity, and sanitation. For the City to even consider such increases is a clear indication that it is out of touch with the real lived realities of the people on the ground,” she said.
GOOD Party City councillor Anton Louw said the City must desist from seeing basic services as a cash cow. Louw said over the years, tariffs added to Eskom’s basic price have gone up to the point they were unaffordable.
“To this end, we look forward to seeing some restructuring of our water and electricity tariffs. The tariffs, plus fixed levies and surcharges, are making basic services unaffordable.
“This means scrapping the fixed water levy, which was meant to be a temporary drought levy, and it means reducing or scrapping the mark-up on the approved Nersa electricity tariff.
“We have a duty to provide services efficiently and reliably, and to ensure they are provided affordably to everyone, with support for those households and individuals that need it most,” he said.
Louw said no family should be forced to choose between buying food, water and electricity.