VIP Motions to Council set No. 10

VIP Motion set no. 10

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

3 September, 2012

The Speaker
Witzenberg Municipality
P O Box 44. Ceres, 6835
Motions tabled by the VIP - Voice of Independents Party Set no. 10
Urgent request to be tabled at the first forthcoming meeting of the Municipal Council.

1.     The VIP requests that the moratorium of subdivisions in Tulbagh is formally lifted in view of the fact that our short to medium term water shortages are behind us due to the completion of the Kleinberg water augmentation scheme.

2.     The VIP requests that a program of Small business development is implemented as a matter of urgency. The status of the poor cannot change unless measures are put in place to alleviate their plight through sustainable job creation. We further suggest that either the relevant Portfolio committee investigates and reports back to Council or a development sub committee be formed for the purpose of identifying suitable land and or premises all over the Witzenberg where SMME points of manufacture and point's of sale can be planned for.

3.     VIP requests that Libraries be open on Saturday mornings to accommodate those who at work in normal working hours in the week.

4.     The VIP requests that a Dog License program and tariff be implemented to curtail the number of dogs roaming the streets.

5.     The VIP believes some thought has to be given to two aspects of the how residents are remembered and their remains disposed of. A simple `remembrance wall with Brass Plaques is NOT the answer. The plaques get stolen (as witnessed personally by the writer, for the value of the plaque as scrap metal). An engraving into a suitable granite or similar wall cladding should be considered or even and an appropriate tariff be implemented. Furthermore, it may be appropriate to also allow for a `hollow or cubicle wall' built of say 500mm x 500mm to accommodate the ashes of those who wish to be cremated and have their remains placed in a cemetery, `Win Blocks' could be most suitable and cost effective for such a wall. A Plastic Plaque with a holder for flowers and a photograph holder of the deceased would also be most suitable and not likely to be stolen. I will go further in that I consider the element of respect for the dead to be sadly lacking in this municipality and the VIP feels that there should be a caretaker who would be in attendance at all cemeteries (resident thereon) and who word protect the graves from vandalism and who would plant flowers in a garden and place same on all graves, walls, etc. This should be provided for in the next IDP and Budget The VIP further submits that vertical burial (in walls) should also be considered for reasons obvious to the lack of space for burial in the conventional method. Some provision in the budget must be made to canvas the population in this respect. The VIP would gladly provide the necessary photographic materiel for a presentation. This should be a Community Services function and that department's budget should reflect the cost of this exercise.

6.     In respect of Water connections, the VIP has no problem with the existing tariffs per- se' , however in respect one the tariff for water connections between 50mm and 80mm, it is considered punitive and basically immoral if this is to be a connection to the water mains for fire hose reels which should be encouraged and be an incentive to do so. The tariff is too high! Such fire protection would have the effect of lessening the burden of Fire Protection services. There should also not be an availability charge for this connection but rather that the connection is metered periodically.

7.     With respect to Subdivision contributions, the VIP strongly objects to there being varying tariffs such as Tulbagh (R17,160), Tulbagh (Agricultural area, outside the town area, (R18,114.00), PA Hamlet (R18,144), other areas (R12,519). The main objection is the difference between Tulbagh, PA Hamlet and these so called `other areas'. All areas and or entities as such, should be treated equitably. It is not just or fair that Ceres, Wolseley, Op Die Berg and their Agricultural areas for instance, are treated as an `other areas' and the charge is discounted so dramatically in those cases. The same argument applies to contributions for 2nd units.

8.     The VIP has concerns that Section 167 of the MFMA which provides that ANY remuneration paid or given in cash OR IN KIND to a person as a political office bearer, or as a member of a political structure of the Municipality otherwise than provided for the framework of the Public Office Bearers ACT 20 of 1988 is being flouted, is regarded as irregular expenditure and the municipality must recover that remuneration from the political office bearer or member. The section also stipulates that the municipality may not write off any expenditure incurred in providing such remuneration. Therefore, the provision of laptops to Councillors including Mayors falls within this category.

9.     The VIP has a problem with the manner in which tariffs for sewerage disposal are calculated and categorized in the Cost Structure and client groups. The first issue that we have with this policy is the fact that the tariff is based of the size of the water connection to the premises. The second issue we have is in respect of the tariffs for Water Closet systems. The basis of the structure of these tariffs assume firstly that all when one connection is in place but more than one usage are separately operated on the premises, each is regarded as a connection in accordance with the classification under which such usage  would normally be connected but not bigger than the connection that serves the premises.

The example made in this respect, are flats and shopping centres where subletting takes place and a residential house with a separate flat. However not all things are equal. For instance, a so called shopping centre may consist of a number of shops and flats. In some instances the individual small shops or flats may have their own toilets (the latter most certainly) whilst in some instances large shopping centres have toilets that are available to the public as well. Large shops such as supermarkets may have 20 staff and small shops my have one or two staff. Basically even a large shopping centre could be served by a 20mm connection with reasonable pressure (or with a pressure booster) unless there is a car wash or something similar. In which case, a large shopping centre with all the employees and the public would surely generate a much greater volume of sewerage waste and water into the sewerage network than a small centre with small shops or flats connected with a 20mm water connection. A single supermarket with 20 employees would most certainly generate much more effluent than a small shop selling oddments for instance? Similarly, a light industrial enterprise such as a Tire and exhaust fitment centre, a filling station, or any industrial enterprise that does not use large volumes of water for its manufacturing process but which has a large staff component, will most certainly generate much more sewerage than say a gift shop? And yet and according to the provisions for tariffs of a 20mm water connection category all are supposedly treated equal? On a 20mm connection, a shall gift shop with one toilet for it's one or two staff pay the same sewerage tariff as a large supermarket, a large shopping centre with public toilets and an industrial enterprise with many staff all pay the same sewerage tariff? This is surely inequitable? The Municipality is bound to provide the services of course and they should be paid for, but the municipality is also obliged to provide services that are charged for equitably?

Perhaps a more equitable solution must be found whereby a small enterprise is with one or two workers is not paying the same as a large enterprise with a multitude of workers and a shopping centre with public toilets? Another formula must be worked out whereby the large business pays proportionally more than a small business. If the flow cannot be measured with a sewerage flow meter, then the tariff should be based of the extent in square metres of the enterprise or the number of employees?

10.     The VIP contends that the monthly `availability levy' on empty premises is punitive to the extreme. Entrepreneurship resulting in the development of shops, flats and light industrial multi unit premises, should be encouraged and not discouraged. Let us assume that before the development was initiated, there was a single connection. The entrepreneur takes the initiative to create the development consisting of a number of units and the Municipality jumps on the bandwagon and smells money and does it's utmost to kill the `Goose that lays the golden egg'? Businesses and accommodation developments have the same effect. They create jobs and an increase to the Rates base. Why should the municipality go `over the top' to drain every cent that emanates from such developments? For every unit created, there is an opportunity for a consumer account? Why punish the developer for non-generating sewerage or refuse per unit?

11.     The VIP accepts the fact that the municipality is in dire need of suitable land for housing the almost 2000 people on its waiting list in Tulbagh alone. The VIP requests that provision be made in the Spatial Development Framework for land to be set aside and acquired, either by own capital or by Grants, for the sale of land that is not entirely suitable for low cost housing and the provision in the budget for acquiring suitable land for the purpose.

12.     The VIP believes strongly that the Municipality is not supportive enough towards development in general which would have the effect of increasing our Rates base. It is suggested that the same committee that is set up to deal with the investigation into the development of SMME's or the relevant Portfolio committee be tasked with investigating stalled projects, with a view to attempting to ascertain where problems exist and to establish if anything could be done to unlock the projects. Notably the proposed Golf Course south of Tulbagh should be the first one to be investigated.

13.     The VIP is most concerned with the manner in which the Debt Collection Policy is being implemented. The Finance Department has arbitrarily changed aspects of the Debt Collection Policy without the sanction of Council. Notably, the Debt Raising date has been pushed forward to the 20th day of the month, the date of account postage to the 23rd of the month, the debtor reconciliation (Debtor/Votes/Age analysis) to the 2nd on the following month and payment is expected on the 4th day of the following month (with a treat that services will be discontinued after that date). This adjustment is ridiculous and punitive to the extreme, as far as Owner's/Landlords are concerned and is causing chaos with the accounts of anyone who leases premises in all sectors of those in the rental market. It is common knowledge and common sense that the entire rental industry has people moving in and out of premises on the last day of the month. Therefore, the effect of this change in policy allows for a tenant to move out and the Landlord to be saddled with the debt of the last tenant you consumer) for 10 to 11 days which must be paid before the next consumer can be connected to the services.

The VIP requests that this policy be adjudicated as to whether it is fair or not. Most tenants pay between the 1st and the 7th day of the month. Who does the Municipality expect will pay the consumers account? It will be the Owner or Landlord of course??

The VIP objects strongly to these blatant heavy handed tactics to decrease the debtor's/consumer's obligations by simply passing this on to the Owner/Landlord.

The VIP requests that this aspect of the Debt Collection Policy be adjusted so as to have the Dept Raising date changed to the last day of the month and each other target date be adjusted accordingly.

14.     The VIP objects in the strongest possible terms with regards to the manner in which Consumer accounts are dealt with by the Finance Department. This department (aside from the `passing of the buck' as per Clause 13 above), enters into `Agreements' with the Municipality's own consumers without even consultation with the Owner/Landlord. The VIP is aware of numerous consumers who have a debt to the Municipality far in excess of their deposits even - sometimes 29 to 30 times the value of their deposits? This is probably contrary to the Consumer Protection Act? How can the Municipality allow the increase of debt by a consumer for someone else to pay for?

15.     The VIP further objects in the strongest terms in respect of the fact that it allows all the above to happen and does not deal firmly enough with its consumers and expects someone else to pay for the ineptitude, the lack of due diligence on the part of the Department of Finance, or simply blatant `fleecing' of money from the Owner/Landlord. When the Consumer does not pay and the Owner/Landlord is held to ransom, it appears that the relevant department is happy to take the money from the Owner/Landlord and let the consumer get away Scott free?

16.     The VIP further strongly objects to the `high handed' manner in which Consumer accounts are dealt with by the Department of Finance. The VIP is aware of instances where a Landlord has been charged for the debts of others (even persons even unknown to the Owner Landlord) and which has caused the Meter to be blocked, the Landlord/Owner is charged for ridiculous `availability charges for empty premises and the new tenant is declined as a consumer!! The VIP is further informed that despite all of the above, when the Owner/Landlord is forced to pay for the debt of the consumer, the consumer's slate is wiped clean and no further effort is made to recover the debt and therefore, the owner is not credited with the amounts that should have been collected! This is unacceptable and a dereliction of responsibility and duty to the Ratepayer.

The VIP has made numerous representations in this regard and is now firmly of the opinion that these issues have been ignored by the Director of Finance and that the Director is considered by the VIP to not be performing in terms of his responsibilities by allowing this `chaos' to continue with little regard to the financial impact on the Ratepayer but rather to impress Council with his success in reducing the debt of the consumer to Council. The VIP demands a thorough audit of the performance of all employed in that department and that disciplinary action to be taken against any employee who has been found to have not carried out his/her duties according to his/her obligations in terms of his/her letter/s of appointment and designated scope of work and in so doing, treating the Ratepayer with disdain and giving the Consumer a `free ride' at the expense of the Ratepayer/Owner/Landlord?

17.     The VIP would care to have a Council decision on the donation of the adjoining land (Erf 23) to the Huis Disa old age home decided upon once and for all. Is this municipality not capable of making decisions? This matter was first brought up by a motion from this Party (Motion to Council of 24 November, 2011 set no. 4). It is now nearly a year later?
18.     The VIP would care to have the land that is not to be needed for the Klip River Part, subdivided and set aside for future sale as per the recommendations submitted to the Administration. Following this exercise, that the Bid be re-advertised to indicate precisely which land would form part of the Bid.

Clr. John Veschini
VIP - Voice of Independents Party