A budget with total expenditure of R 689 million was passed by the Kouga Council at a meeting held in Jeffreys Bay.
Expected income was budgeted for at R 638 million with an additional R33 million coming from grant funding.
Capital expenditure is set at R 63 million, which is nearly R 20 million more than the last financial year.
The DA agreed that it is not necessary that R 6,5 Million be budgeted for a new Council Chamber and R 3 million of this proposed budget will go towards the Melkhout to Jeffreys Bay main 66kv electrical line, which supplies Jeffreys Bay with power.
The other R 3 million will go towards a new community hall in Kwanozamo, with Councillor Juline Prinsloo querying why budget was not rather being set aside to upgrade the existing halls. However, she was criticized by ANC Councillors as not knowing the needs of the Kwanozamo community as she does not live there.
Councillor Ben Rheeder insisted that an R 1 million capital project be identified and implemented in Sea Vista (St Francis Bay), which was agreed upon by the entire Council.
12 % increases in water and electricity tariffs were passed, with the Council having little control over these increases as these services are received from Eskom and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
Other services will increase by 6 %, although the DA requested time to study the tariff schedules which were only handed out at the meeting, which did not give any opportunity to scrutinise the various tariff increases.
“Tourism unfriendly budget”
While it is pleasing to see an increase in spending on Kouga’s infrastructure, it is alarming to note the dramatic decrease in spending on Tourism and Local Economic Development.
Tourism is widely regarded as being the most sustainable job creating industry in Kouga, yet the budget has been decreased to R 8,8 million.
The tourism and local economic development budget was R 19, 4 million in the 2013/14 financial year and is being steadily cut by Council.
This was opposed by Councillor Brenton Williams, who said that more budget must be set aside for tourism as the Council had a responsibility to create the climate for a sustainable tourism industry in Kouga.
However, his concerns were brushed aside by ANC Councillors who stated that the tourists will come to the Kouga anyway and there is no need to budget more money for tourism.
Williams also queried why current assets dropped from R 304 million to just R 86 million in the budget, but no answer was forthcoming.
Tags: kouga budget