Tulbagh
VIP Motions to Council set No. 1




VIP Motion set no. 1

VIP - Voice of Independents Party
P O Box 10, Tulbagh, 6820
Tel. 023 230 2696
Fax to Email 086 665 9232

12 July, 2011

The Speaker
Witzenberg Municipality
P O Box 44. Ceres, 6835
Motions tabled by the VIP - Voice of Independents Party
1.     Budget 2011/2012      
The VIP proposes that the current adopted budget 2011/2012 be revisited to take cognizance of the fact that the budget is neither fair nor equitable. Thereafter, that possible adjustments may be considered, which need not affect the overall total budget figure but nevertheless may lead to a budget that is indeed fair and equitable.
In support of this motion, I attach extracts of my comments to the Budget contained in Annexure A herewith.
2.     Credit Control Policy
The VIP proposes that the present Credit Control Policy, be reviewed in its entirety as part of the review of the Budget as per motion No. 1 above.
In support of this motion, I attach extracts of my comments to the Budget contained in Annexure A herewith.
3.     Tariffs
The VIP proposes that the present tariffs set for services, as well as other general tariffs, be reviewed in their entirety, as part of the review of the Budget as per motion No. 1 above.
In support of this motion, I attach extracts of my comments to the Budget contained in Annexure A herewith.
4.     System of Delegations.
The VIP proposes that the System of Delegations in terms of Section 59(2)(f) be work shopped and be subject to a final decision on the basis of delegation at the next meeting of Council. Sect 65 of the Systems Act that determines that if a Council has an Executive Mayor with an Mayoral committee, any changes to delegations must first be put before the Executive Mayoral Committee who must carry it to Council. According to the approved Rules of Order (2005) it states that any motion of Council can only be changed after the elapse of three months. It is therefore imperative that decisions regarding the System of Delegations are made by the new Council at the forthcoming Council meeting after having thoroughly work shopped the process. The VIP is particularly concerned about delegations with regards to making decisions to incur legal costs on behalf of the Municipality, the signing of contracts in respect of Civil and Building, the alienation of Council property, the engaging of outside consultants, attorneys etc. which it is felt should be decisions made by Council and delegated to the Mayoral Executive Committee to thereafter be party to any such decisions, appointments and contracts.
5.     Resorts
It is clear that the Municipality and therefore the Ratepayer, is carrying the cost of the wasteful expenditure of these two resorts to the tune of about R3,174.030 a year? This is totally unacceptable. It is ludicrous that after so many years of these ever increasing losses, some Councillors still consider these `white elephants' to be `assets' instead of `liabilities' and as a result it has taken near on 6 years off continuous losses that are being incurred by a lack of attention to this matter and a final decision as to what to do with these resorts. If one compounds the losses over that period, we have lost more that the resorts are worth! This tantamount to irresponsible behavior on the part of the Councillors for not being able to make a decision to avoid these losses and any further such losses. A decision must be made and the process of alienation effected. Managing resorts is and should not be the function of a Municipality.

5.1     Pine Forest Resort
The VIP notes the expenditure exceeds the revenue by R1.871,000? This probably does not allow for sufficient maintenance? If annual revenue is R5,240,000 and the standard yardstick is used at say 11% as a provision for annual maintenance, then a further R576,000 would have to be added to the losses per annum. Therefore the Ratepayer is loosing a whopping R2,447,400 a year on this resort alone?
This is wasteful expenditure and this has been going on for years due to the procrastination by the Municipality in not selling off this liability ridden resort. The VIP proposes that urgent attention be given to the final disposal of this resort.
5.2     Kliprivier Park
The VIP notes that the expenditure exceeds the revenue by R646,000? This probably does not allow for sufficient maintenance? If annual revenue is R733.000 and the standard yardstick is used at say 11% as a provision for annual maintenance, then a further R80,630 would have to be added to the loss. Therefore the Ratepayer is loosing a whopping R726,630 a year on this resort alone?
This is wasteful expenditure and this has been going on for years due to the procrastination by the Municipality in not selling off this liability ridden resort. The VIP proposes that urgent attention be given to the final disposal of this resort.

6.     Provision of land for further expansion of the Tulbagh Old Age home.
Written requests have been made by Huis Disa for the Municipality to donate Erf 23 (which lies adjacent to Huis Disa) to the Old Age Home. The Home is filled to capacity and has no land for expansion. The VIP requests that a decision by Council must be made on this matter as the extra land is sorely needed for an expanding aged population.

A Photo of the property where Huis Disa is situated and the adjacent property, Erf 23, which is owned by the municipality.
7.     Fire Fighting
     The VIP believes that a thorough investigation of the water reticulation systems within the Witzenberg must be made to ascertain the number of fire hydrants which are available for the connection to by fire fighting vehicles. A report must then be submitted to Council in order that Council can assess its capacity in respect of Fire Fighting.
     Furthermore, a report must be submitted by the Technical department to Council, as to what provision has been made for fire hydrants in the Tulbagh water reticulation system upgrade, as well as the municipal housing township development which is currently underway in Tulbagh (Chris Hani and Witzenville extension).
     It would also be informative to Council to know what provision is being made for alternative water supply in the case of a disruption to the water supply which happened in May and which led to the burning down of a residence in Wolseley. Details of the number of fire fighting vehicles, where they are situated and where they get their emergency water supplies from will also be informative.

8.     Town Planning
The VIP requests that urgent attention be given to providing assistance to the Town Planner in the form of sufficiently qualified assistant. It is the opinion of the VIP that the workload of our Town planner is far too great and this may be affecting development and therefore wealth creation.
Town Planning costs and the promotion of an expanded rates base for the Witzenberg , through the encouragement of development.
8.1     In respect of the 2011/2012 budget, the VIP notes that in respect of the Contribution to external services, the Budget document makes specific reference Tulbagh (Town area), Tulbagh (Agricultural area, outside town area), PA. Hamlet and `Other areas'. One can only assume that the other areas, include Wolseley, Ceres, Op Die Berg and all agricultural areas in between? Which begs the question, why are there such inequitable and differential tariffs applicable in the first instance and why is PA Hamlet paying the most, followed by Tulbagh and surrounds and then the rest are paying the least, including Ceres?  There should most certainly be a marked difference between the disposable income of the population of Ceres compared to that of the populations of the smaller towns? Once again the VIP considers these charges `inequitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres and proposes that such charges be made to be equitable?
8.2     The VIP proposes that a sub-committee be formed for the purpose of evaluating the potential for development within the Municipality, assessing approved developments and establishing what the Municipality can do to accelerate the process of development. It should be very clear to Council, that Rates, Service Charges and Tariffs have reached a point whereby they have become unreasonably punitive to the Ratepayer, Consumer and Resident. An expanded Rates base is critical to wealth creation and a sense of contentment by the Ratepayer and the Consumer. It is also critically important that such a committee works closely to ensure that any decisions made by any authority does not affect the viability of developments that are either approved or contemplated in the Municipal area (a case in point is the approval of the rectification of an illegal airstrip by the Minister concerned (DEA&DP) without taking cognizance of an approved development of a lifestyle village a few hundred metres (or less) from the end of the airstrip). Who in their right minds will purchase a property in that Lifestyle development?


Yours faithfully,
Councillor John Veschini - VIP - Voice of Independents Party

Annexure A
Supporting Document to the Motions requested to be tabled to forthcoming Council meeting of the Witzenberg Municipality.

1.     General comment to the Municipality

The cost to the Ratepayer and consumer to keep this Municipality functioning is not distributed fairly and equitably between the large wealthy town of Ceres and the smaller, or less wealthy towns which make up the amalgamated municipal area of the Witzenberg. Rates and tariffs are apparently determined on the same basis for all the towns and yet there is no comparison to the level of services and amenities between a town such as Ceres against smaller towns such as Tulbagh, Wolseley, Prince Alfred's Hamlet and Op Die Berg, for instance. It is akin to a comparison between a medium sized town like Ceres and a large town like Worcester?
There should most certainly be a marked difference between the disposable income, joblessness and the potential for wealth creation, of the population of Ceres compared to the populations of the smaller towns?

In respect of Commercial property, most certainly there is a marked difference in `foot traffic' and sustainability between Tulbagh and other small towns compared to Ceres? The same would apply to most categories, for rating purposes, including Accommodation establishments, Industrial, and Agricultural? Tulbagh is not even on the main trunk road for instance? How can the potential for sustainability be measured other than by the obvious?

Thus the service charge tariffs especially, should be adjusted to cater for this anomaly? Property values will determine the Rates but the differentiation between the levels of services and amenities provided in comparison, must surely also be taken into account and the Rand rate value must be adjusted accordingly?

So, to offer good governance, fair and equitable rates and taxes and service charges, your accounts for each entity, should be separated in order that you can see the inequalities that exist by amalgamation and address those by adjusting all costs upwards for a town like Ceres and reducing same for the other small towns appropriately and base your rates and tariffs on fact of demand and sustainability? The following comments/proposals are made mostly in respect of the approved Budget, which in our view, was `rushed through' without any opportunity for comments by members of the public as well as a newly constituted Council whose composition differs substantially from that of the previous Council, to be given a opportunity to consider the budget and be enabled to make decisions regarding same.

2.     Property Rates
It terms of the adjustments that are proposed in the table below, we would consider that the increases in Rates are once again well over the inflation index If these increases are compared to previous years. There appears to be a never ending upward spiral in the rates levied to the Ratepayer and the compounded effect of these increases is that the Municipality appears to be impoverishing the community and negatively affecting the sense of wellbeing in the community. Once again we reiterate that the Rates levied are neither, fair nor equitable and in respect of Commercial, Industrial, or any business orientated zoning/category, they are discouraging development and job creation.

Property rates and other municipal taxes
Property rates (First column denotes the Rate/Rand as it is and the last as is proposed over the next two financial years)

R 0.00582 Residential Property 0.0% R 0.00685 17.70% R 0.00740 R 0.00784
R 0.00466 Informal Settlements 0.0% R 0.00548 17.60% R 0.00592 R 0.00628
R 0.01060 Business/Commercial Property 0.0% R 0.01301 22.74% R 0.01405 R 0.01489
R 0.01194 Industrial Property 0.0% R 0.01301 8.96% R 0.01405 R 0.01489
R 0.00146 Bona fida Agricultural 0.0% R 0.00171 17.12% R 0.00185 R 0.00196
R 0.00873 Agricultural/Business/Residential 0.0% R 0.00685 -21.53% R 0.00740 R 0.00784
R 0.00815 Agricultural/Industrial 0.0% R 0.00685 -15.95% R 0.00740 R 0.00784
R 0.01060 State owned Property 0.0% R 0.01301 22.74% R 0.01405 R 0.01489
R 0.00873 Vacant Land - Urban 0.0% R 0.01027 17.64% R 0.01109 R 0.01176
R 0.00146 Public Service Infrastructure 0.0% R 0.00171 17.12% R 0.00171 R 0.00171
R 0.00146 Public Benefit Organisations 0.0% R 0.00171 17.12% R 0.00171 R 0.00171
R 0.00728 Building clauses 0.0% R 0.00856 17.58% R 0.00856 R 0.00856

2.1     Residential Rates have increased exponentially year upon year to a point where it is becoming close to impossible to cope with the costs of a maintaining a residence in this town. I note that your budget does not discriminate between `ordinary residential and a residential business, such as one which derives income from Accommodation, Spaza or Mobile shops, Shebeens, etc.? Why should Bona-fide residential subsidize the above which are classified to obtain rebates associated with so called `poor households'?
2.2     Business/Commercial property rates are nothing short of punitive. This increase of 22.7% follows last year's increase of 16%. These rates, coupled to all the new basic service charges, availability charges, the increases of water, electricity, refuse and sewerage charges are making it impossible for an owner of commercial property to get a return for the investment.
2.3     Are we not killing the proverbial `goose that lays the golden egg' and discouraging business development and job creation? Once again it is obvious that we are punishing commercial entrepreneurs in the smaller towns especially. The reason why there are shops available for letting in the smaller towns, is that we allow the illegal use of residential premises for all types of businesses and the Rates and charges that you levy. Why pay exorbitant rentals, when one can operate with impunity from residential property which none of the `overheads associated with the Business/Commercial properties? Is it justifiable to charge 79% more for a Commercial Property than a Residential property which is using the property for commercial purposes?  
2.4     With respect to Industrial property, We ask the question as to why we are discriminating between Industrial and Commercial property? Both are business properties and both are designed to create business, as well as jobs and a fair return for the entrepreneur - both the owner and the tenant? In fact, it would cost far less to build an Industrial building that it would cost to build a commercial building - almost double in most instances? Thus, why the discrepancy in the Rates given the above? What factors informed the Municipality in determining these differential values which inform the Rate per Rand?
2.5     In respect of Agricultural/Business/Residential, we suggest that a 21% increase is unjustifiable. Firstly, we suggest that you allow the owner of such zoning to apply for a mixed use application - designated `business' areas demarcated by a surveyor, to ensure that the overall property is not rated on the Business/Residential rates base as opposed to the pure `Bona-fide Agricultural'? Once again, we suggest that you are punishing the farmer who has a business element to the farm. Farmers are the life blood of the local economy. Please consider this but also consider that a business on a farm and the farm itself, does NOT receive any services from the Municipality?
2.6     In respect of Agricultural/Industrial, I suggest the same as in respect of 2.4 and 2.5 above, with due regard to the equitability of costs to the Industrial `business' element, as well as the Bona-fide agricultural element. Please consider this but also consider that a business on a farm and the farm itself does NOT receive any services from the Municipality? We note the decrease in the rate per Rand. This begs the question… the previous increases severely affected the viability of Wine Producers for instance and we are aware that those owners made many representations to the Municipality to obtain relief in a totally depressed market with totally unjustifiable and sudden massive increases in their Rates bills.
2.7     It is not clear as to whether Homes for the aged are Rated. If so, the VIP proposes that any Home for the aged be assessed on the basis of whether some of the occupants (less aged and not in need of care) pay towards their accommodation and other occupants who rely entirely on Grants in Aid. or old age pensions (as is the case at Huis Disa in Tulbagh for instance). Should this be the case, then the Home should have a basis of Rates based on two differentials - perhaps a mixed use approach?
2.8     In terms of the proposed Property Rates amendment Bill, State property my possible not be rated? Cognizance must be taken of this possibility.

The VIP proposes that all the above be reconsidered.

3.0          Tariffs for Services.
It is apparent that this is where the Municipality makes its `real money'? These charges are seemingly spiraling out of control?  Once again my mind goes to the words `fair and equitable'?

3.1          Electricity charges.
Once again the VIP considers these charges `inequitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres in respect of the level of services and disposable income levels? The basis of the distribution of the charges equally `across the board' must surely be revisited in the  Tariff Policy and the VIP proposes that it happens.
3.2     Refuse collection
Do the Garbage collectors record the number of bags collected? Does the municipality provide `container' collection for the large refuse generators such s Supermarkets and the like? Why should residents, as well as small business enterprises be paying over R153.43 per month for the collection of refuse when an affluent town such as Knysna, pays R56.42 a month? Why are the large refuse generators not being `equitably' charged? The VIP proposes that the Council comes up with a `pre-paid' refuse collection service which could involve the purchase of `stickers' to be placed on each bag? No sticker, no collection? The more refuse that is generated for collection and paid for, the more each bag will thus be recorded and paid for? Money in the Bank as opposed to the opposite and an unfair an inequitable refuse collection Tariff and Policy. I believe that the basis of this Tariff should be revisited? Once again the VIP does not consider these charges `equitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres given the differential level of services and disposable income levels and proposes that they be revisited?
3.3     Waterborne Sewerage Tariffs
The VIP asks what on earth has a sewerage tariff got to do with a water connection size? Surely, we are talking about number of toilets per household, or per enterprise, or are we talking about the size of the sewerage connection (the latter would be difficult to equate or evaluate `equitably', as probably nobody on the Municipal staff has the capacity to determine the volume generated versus the adequate size of the sewerage pipe to cope with the flow)? Sewerage is surely determined by volume generated, or per toilet, or per staff, or per average household? So, a resident pays R143.30 a month for sewerage disposal? What does a large business pay which may have 25 or more employees generating human waste?
For an average household of say 5 people, this translates to say 30 days x 2 = 60 cases of sewerage disposal. That in turn translates to R2,38 per `generation'. Now a large enterprise which does not have more than a 25mm water connection (which is in the main) but with 25 staff will translate to say 30 days x 2 x 25 = 1500 occurrences of sewerage disposal. That in turn to ,0955 cents a `generation'?
Then comes the issue of small town tariffs versus large town tariffs? Should a Tulbagh, Wolseley, PA Hamlet, or Op Die Berg resident pay the same as a Ceres resident to relieve him/herself, when he has a lesser chance of being able to afford it?

The VIP believes that this tariff and the associated Policy should be revisited as a matter of `extreme' urgency?

The VIP also notes that the municipality has a special tariff for `Departmental' of only R56.63 per month? What does that mean?  Does the staff of the Municipality get sewerage disposal discounts?

The VIP notes that the Obiqua Prison will pay R23,082. If our calculations are correct and there are about 30 days x 2 = 60 x 500 inmates = 30,000 inmate sewerage `generations'. That means they are only paying R1.29 cents per usage? That is almost half of what a residential consumer pay? Now we as Ratepayers are already paying our National taxes and therefore subsidizing the accommodation of the prisoners, but should we also be subsidizing them further in the Municipal budget?
The VIP proposes that the matter of Sewerage Tariffs should be revisited, as clearly the Policy and tariff is unfair and inequitable? Once again we do not consider these charges `equitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres, given the differential level of services and disposable income levels and proposes that they be revisited?
3.4     Sewerage Connections
The budget states that property owners will now pay R3684.00 for a connection to the municipal sewerage system. Given that it took 7 (seven) years for the planning of the first 70 low cost houses proposed to be built in Tulbagh and soon, we expect the planning of another 240 units to be approved only now in 2011, we shall expect about 310 poor people to have to pay this kind of money for a connection? Or, is someone else expected to subsidize this connection? Let us look at the cost of a connection? The owner/developer pays for the materials and labour, (a pvc junction, a pvc rodding eye, half a length of 100 mm pvc pipe and some pvc glue and a few rubber grommets) and the municipality pays nothing? Is this charge justified at all, given that the sewerage generator' will be paying for the disposal thereof? Will a Tariff like this not discourage people to connect and rather use the nearest field or stream, as is what is happening now?  Once again the VIP consider these charges `inequitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres given the differential level of services and disposable income levels and proposes that they be revisited?

3.5     Water Connections
The Connection charges over 50mm are excessive!
I note that no there is no specific provision for a water connection for fire fighting provision but I assume that it is supposed to fall under the category of <80mm? Therefore, to make a connection to internal fire hose reels would cost R6032? Now surely a connection for the purposes of fire prevention should be encouraged and even subsidized, since the Municipality does not provide sufficient (if any) fire hydrants strategically where necessary? Once again the VIP considers these charges `inequitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres given the differential level of services and disposable income levels and proposes that they be revisited?

3.6     Water availability or basic charges
These charges are extremely high. If one adds that the water charge on a property per kilolitre, I would venture to suggest that we may be heading to a point whereby we are paying much more for water than in many other municipalities?
The VIP notes in the charges for availability of water, a fire hydrant which MAY be used at some time (maybe never) to fight a fire, carries a monthly availability fee of R2004.02. This is ludicrous and unacceptable when the hydrant should be available and be provided by the Municipality in the first instance? How can an old age home for instance (or any other establishment or enterprise for that matter) with two fire hydrants afford to pay R2004.02 x 2 per month for no water usage unless there is a fire? The VIP believes that this thinking is preposterous to say the least and believes that certain aspects of the Municipality's Water Policy and Tariffs should be revisited without delay. Once again the VIP considers these charges `inequitable' given that the small town entities do not compare with Ceres given the differential level of services and disposable income levels and proposes that they be revisited?