Walvis residents brace for tariff hike
By Confidente Reporter
AT the tabling of the budget for Walvis Bay Council earlier recently, the chairperson of the management committee, Councillor Lilo Niilenge reminded her audience that the “negative state of the economy locally and world-wide is affecting us all directly and indirectly.
“We continue to witness how some members of our society are facing retrenchments, a situation that may eventually result in increased rates of unemployment. This is quite evident in especially the fishing and mining industries.
“Job losses, mostly lead to people not being able to take care of their respective families, bills remaining unpaid, utility tariffs being adjusted upwards, commodity prices being increased, and so the list goes on,”she said.
Walvis Bay Council recently introduced an Interest Amnesty Period, which will remain in force until 31 May and Nillenge reminded that “those affected to take advantage of this arrangement by settling their arrear accounts in full on or before expiry of the Interest Amnesty Period” to ensure that the interest on accounts in arrears is written off.
She further said that the council had delivered “more than forty serviced industrial erven at Extension 14 – located between the road to the airport and Narraville – and encouraged prospective developers in the form of joint ventures approach the council to acquire and develop these ervens so as to create employment opportunities.
The capital budget:
Capital projects with a total value of N$314 million would be executed over a period of more than one year. Niilenge said the total amount to be spent during 2019/2020 was set at N$250 million, and that the remaining N$63 million was expected to be spent in 2020/2021 and beyond.
A breakdown of the combined projects provided for in the 2019/2020 budget includes the following:
Land development projects were allocated N$107 million. These projects run over more than one financial year. From the above total land development budget, N$76 million was set aside for the development of residential erven and facilities at Farm 37. The remaining N$31 million is to be used for the finalisation and or starting up of new extensions.
Community and social projects received N$46 million. Niilenge said the primary or main individual projects under this category include work on the Tutaleni Fire Station, the Single Quarters upgrade and upgrading of Ekutu (stalls on Erf 3994), amongst others.
N$80 million of the capital budget was earmarked for service delivery-related projects. This category includes the implementation, upgrading and replacement of water and sewer infrastructure, planning and construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, and upgrading of existing pump stations. N$15 million was allocated to municipal vehicle replacements and additions.
The operating budget
Niilenge noted that the council’s expected revenue for the new financial year was estimated at about N$510 million, while expected expenditure has also been set at N$510 million. There would therefore be no deficit nor surplus for the budget under review, as per the directive of the Urban Development Ministry that municipal budgets should be balanced, and that there should be no deficit nor surplus.
About 76% of total estimated revenue, she said, is obtained from water and related services, property rates and taxes, refuse removal and sanitation services, but with the rapid growth of the harbour city, large extensions in infrastructure were necessary, the costs of which have to be recovered from tariffs.
The 2019/2020 budget thus included upward tariff adjustments for a number of services. Water supply and related services (8%); property rates and taxes (8% on site values and 8% on improvements); refuse removal services (8%); and sanitation services (8%).
She said the proposed water tariff increase would be lower than the anticipated adjustment from Namwater of 9.8%. “The price adjustments are necessary to maintain the same standards in terms of service delivery,” Niilenge added.
With regard to property rates and taxes, the adjustment includes 5% contributions to Erongo Regional Council. “I call upon all entities and organisations who qualify to be exempted from rates levied on rate-able properties, to apply for such exemption on or before 31st May in each year immediately preceding the financial year to which the application relates,” she advised.