Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
KWEKWE City Council has resolved to implement its 2023 budget in phases starting with a 100 percent tariff increment instead of the initially proposed 400 percent following backlash from stakeholders.
While the Government has already approved the 400 percent tariff review, a heated discussion during a recent full council meeting, which lasted about eight hours, has forced the council to seek a compromise position.
During the engagement, councilors accused council management of presenting a wrong document to Local Government and Public Works Minister, July Moyo, which they said was not fair to ratepayers.
Ward 8 Councilor Edumakomborero Mlambo said the 400 percent increase was not realistic given the prevailing economic climate, which presents a challenge to many.
“It’s not easy out there for the ratepayers to pay their dues. Things are tough economically. If our 2022 budget performed so well that we even purchased cars and built clinics, among other things, why should we increase the tariffs for the already suffering ratepayers?” he asked.
Other councilors weighed in and proposed the adoption of the resolution to stagger the budget implementation. Only three councilors out of 14, voted against the decision.
In a statement after the meeting, Acting Mayor Pikurayi Msipa said the council has since agreed to implement the budget in phases and to remove the rebasing, which saw tariffs being increased by about 100 percent in October last year.
“We agreed that the 400 percent increment on billable tariffs, meaning those that appear on statements, of accounts be reduced to 100 percent of your October 2022 effective 2023,” he said.
“Council reserved the right to adjust these tariffs in future responding to any economic fundamentals.”
Cllr Msipa said the local authority adopted the proposed rebasing that was effected on 1 November 2022 and factored the bills from that month to January 2023. He said this will be scrapped as it was only meant to last until December last year.
“These are the key resolutions with a direct effect on our bills and we expected management to implement these resolutions with immediate effect,” he said.
The development means that an average household will be forking out about US$24 down from US$48 that had already been affected by the council after the passing of the budget.
Cllr Msipa urged ratepayers to pay their bills on time to enable the council to effectively deliver services. Council management came under fire last year after purchasing top-of-the-range vehicles for its management with two more Toyota Fortuners meant to be purchased for the Town Clerk and the Mayor’s office.
Article Source: The Chronicle