Date: 2021-10-04 13:49:04
Executive Committee Decisions - 25 February 2020
25 February 2020
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DECISIONS
CITY MOVES TO IMPLEMENT INDIGENT POLICY
A report outlining the implementation of the City’s Indigent Policy in the 2020/2021 financial year was welcomed at an Executive Committee meeting held on 25 February.
The policy aims to provide a framework for the provision of a social package of benefits to the indigent. This includes providing basic services to the community in a sustainable manner within the financial and administrative capacity of the Municipality while providing procedures for the subsidisation of basic services to indigent households. It will also review the affordability of basic services through appropriate service levels, tariffs and debt relief while allowing for the provision of rates relief in alignment with the Rates Policy and Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act 2004.
The process will be closely monitored to ensure that the policy is not abused and will substantially benefit indigent residents of the City who are truly deserving.
EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda welcomed the report. He said this is a clear demonstration that eThekwini is indeed a caring Municipality. He urged residents who can afford to pay for basic services, to do so.
“We welcome this policy and give our full support for it moving forward. We are also appealing to residents who have the means to pay for services we are rendering, to do so. We should all be mindful of the fact that these services do not come cheap, the City spends a considerable amount of money for them to be provided unceasingly. Failure to pay for these services while some of us can afford to, will indeed impede our City from living up to its constitutional mandate to the detriment of all residents,” he said.
EThekwini Deputy Mayor Councillor Belinda Scott echoed Mayor Kaunda’s sentiments. She described the policy as “excellent” and called for a monitoring mechanism to be put in place to guard against it being abused.
“In order to ensure the correct implementation of the policy there must be sufficient oversight. This includes home visits before and even after approval to ensure only those who truly need this service will access it. There must be monitoring and evaluation of the policy,” she said.
The tabled report stated that the draft Indigent Policy is the first in a two-fold policy response to poverty alleviation initiatives and focuses on Municipal services, debt relief measures and rates relief.
The report states that it is necessary for principle approval of the draft Indigent Policy to be obtained to enable Council to make provision in the 2020/21 budget for the amount required for indigent assistance.
In order to qualify for the indigent support, certain criteria must be met. This includes an application being made in the prescribed form. Furthermore, the household income must not exceed the total household income determined by Council at its annual budget meeting and the applicant must be registered with the Municipality for services and/assessment rates. The property must also be used for residential purposes only with the Municipal value of the property not exceeding the maximum value as determined by Council. The policy states that an applicant who lives in an informal settlement may be eligible to qualify for basic Municipal services, provided they meet all the criteria.
The policy also covers indigent support for child-headed households subject to certain conditions as well as for indigent households in life right schemes and retirement complexes as well as for deceased estates.
The policy outlines the extent of indigent support including basic Municipal services, rates relief, arrears on indigent accounts and the duration of indigent support.
Regarding duration of the support, the policy states that unless indicated to the contrary in this policy or any budget related policy, the validity period for indigent support will be for a maximum period of 24 months. A new application will be required for ensuing Municipal financial year/s. The application for indigent support must be made on or before 28 February preceding the Municipal financial year for which it is required.
The policy will be posted on the Municipal website with prescribed forms available at Customer Service Centres, Sizakala Centres and the Municipal website. The policy will be reviewed annually by the Revenue Management Unit as part of the annual budget process.
The following support will only be approved for qualifying households, provided that funds are available for allocation.
• Free basic electricity – the qualified applicant will receive the indigent subsidy of electricity supply to the maximum of 20 amps in a prepaid meter supply.
• Free water supply- the qualified applicant will receive 6kl of free water.
All water supplied from a standpipe is free of charge subject to conditions as stipulated in the Water Policy.
• Sewage disposal – where the water supply to a customer is limited to 300l per day via a ground tank or yard tap, the only acceptable sewage disposal option is a urine diversion toilet, which is provide at no cost to the household but remains the responsibility of the householder to provide maintenance of all items including periodic emptying.
A connection to the Municipal waterborne sewerage system which offers a nil sewage disposal charge for water usage below 300l per day, a steeped tariff and a reduced tariff where the water is by means of a semi-pressure service and the water is between 300l and 833l per day consumption.
• Refuse removal – property less than the threshold value, as approved by the Council at its annual budget, will not be charged for refuse collection and its removal.
• Property rates - The Municipality may grant rates rebates based on the property value as determined by Council in its annual budget and subject to the provision of the Rates Act.
STATUS REPORT OF SECTON 21 SCHOOLS’ DEBT
A report outlining the measures undertaken by the City to recoup outstanding debt owed by Section 21 schools was tabled at an Executive Committee meeting held today, 25 February.
Th report was initially tabled at a Finance, Security and Emergency Committee meeting.
The tabled report noted that debt owed by schools was becoming a major concern for eThekwini with the total debt owed by schools being R188.5 million as at 31 December 2019. Several meetings were held with the Department of Education and Provincial Treasury to try and resolve the issue, the report states.
Section 21 schools are schools that are responsible for the payment of their services.
The report states that in the last meeting held in 2019 with the Provincial Treasury and representatives from the Education Department it was decided that the Municipality must implement its credit control and debt collection policy.
While the City works to recoup the outstanding debt, the Electricity and Revenue Departments are finalising plans to install prepaid meters in schools. The report notes that the prepaid meters should be installed by the end of the financial year.
The City will continue with its credit control action against schools and will start issuing final demands and summons. The report notes that of schools that were disconnected for outstanding debt, a number of these disconnected schools signed agreements to pay the outstanding debt over an extended period. A total of R2 million was collected as a result of the action taken which would not have been possible if drastic action was not taken, the report noted.
Further action to be taken includes sending out notices to schools notifying them about pending disconnections, the Water Department investigating the possibility of installing devices that will open water during the day and close it at night and the Electricity Department installing prepaid meters on three phase connections as most of the affected schools have these metres. The Municipality will also help the schools with energy and water saving training workshops.
For media enquiries contact Msawakhe Mayisela on 031 311 4820 / 060 966 4220
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Acting Head of Communications Mandla Nsele.