City of Joburg says it won't cut services of those unable to pay during lockdown
Mayco member for finance Jolidee Matongo said since the Covid-19 pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown, the City and its residents had begun feeling the pinch. This was evident in the revenue collection figures for April, which had dropped – a clear indication that there are residents whose income has been affected, Matongo said.
The City has, however, undertaken not to cut off services during the lockdown. It raises most of its revenue for service delivery through property rates charges.
“The knock-on effect of the decline in revenue means that the City has to align budgeted programmes accordingly. This is to ensure that a more prudent approach to fiscal management of the current budget is adhered to, while finding innovative ways to continue meeting our service delivery and developmental agenda.
“In the meantime, we appeal to residents who can still afford to pay their municipal accounts to continue doing so to ensure that the delivery of basic services continues during this difficult time. It is through working together that we can overcome the challenges we are all facing at this stage,” Matongo said.
A full announcement on Joburg’s comprehensive contingency plan will be made once the City’s Covid-19 adjustment budget is concluded and approved later this month.
The City said it was reviewing its rates rebates and municipal service charges as part of the expanded social package (ESP) programme to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on ratepayers.
“The City’s leadership is hard at work reviewing the ESP programme’s current terms and conditions, which require policy adjustments – with the aim of broadening the net for distressed Joburg ratepayers,” he said, adding the City’s existing relief programme, the ESP, already offered rebates on all municipal account services that include property rates, water, electricity and refuse removal.
The Johannesburg Property Owners and Managers Association (JPOMA) recently submitted a relief proposal to the mayor. “We applaud the work the City has done over the past few weeks and the ongoing efforts in managing a city in lockdown,” said chairperson Nic Barnes. “We now call on the mayor, the mayoral committee and executive leadership of the City, its utilities, agencies and entities to start developing a pragmatic plan to deal with the economic and financial impacts of this unfolding disaster.”
JPOMA, said Barnes, understood it wasn’t a challenge that could be tackled by the City alone. As a member of the Covid-19 Inner City Task Team – along with other organisations such as the Johannesburg Inner City Partnership (JICP) and the Forum of Integrated Risk Mitigation (FIRM) – JPOMA has volunteered its assistance, be it in making its expertise available to balance the operating budget, liaising with other organisations such as Nersa and Rand Water, or in any other way that may be required.
JPOMA represents Joburg property owners and managing agents who are active in the rejuvenation of the inner city.
This represents R15 billion of private capital invested in more than 60 000 affordable housing units, accommodating nearly 250 000 inner city residents who earn between R4 500 and R15 000 a month.