The Democratic Alliance (DA) has uncovered concerning issues regarding the new valuation roll in Mantsopa Local Municipality. The municipality has failed to provide public participation opportunities for residents to object to the valuation of their properties, as required by the Municipal Property Rates Act. This oversight has significant implications for the budget, as property rates were calculated based on these figures. The lack of transparency and public involvement is deeply concerning.
Furthermore, during the presentation of the final budget in Council on 30 May 2023, there was a substantial increase in the revenue amount from the draft budget. Despite raising questions about these discrepancies, the DA received no response. The draft budget was based on a collection rate of 70%, but the final budget reduced this rate to 65%. However, the revenue amount inexplicably increased.
Upon further analysis, it was discovered that service charges for electricity, water, and waste management were significantly and unrealistically increased without any opportunity for public comment. Additionally, the interest on receivables was inflated, despite the municipality’s knowledge of an inflated debtor’s book due to historic debts, incorrect accounts, and incorrect tariffs.
These revenue anomalies paint a picture of an overstated budget to appease the Treasury, but they are neither realistic nor achievable. The DA will take this matter to the Provincial Legislature, represented by David van Vuuren, to bring Treasury’s attention to the unrealistic revenue projections.
The DA demands immediate action to rectify the lack of public participation in the valuation roll process and to address the revenue anomalies in the budget. Transparency and accountability are vital to ensure a fair and responsible budget that reflects the needs and concerns of the community.