Gweru City Council has reviewed its 2020 annual budget by 25 percent, which will result in the 75 percent surge in rates and water charges.
The move follows the approval two months ago by the Government, on the increase to the local authority’s $1,8 billion by 50 percent.
The cash-strapped council has been failing to rehabilitate its road network as well as supplying residents with portable water due to lack of resources.
The council has been collecting on average $11 million a month against a budget of $14 million, which is needed to meet its obligations such as payment of salaries, capital projects and service delivery.
City Mayor, Councillor Josiah Makombe, said the increase was necessitated by the need to meet service delivery expectations.
Addressing ratepayers and residents at a 2020 budget review meeting yesterday, Clr Makombe said without a review of the annual budget, they will be incapacitated.
“I plead with our valued residents that we are reviewing our budget upwards by 75 percent of the approved tariffs for billable tariffs whilst non billable tariffs remain as they were,” Clr Makombe said.
“It will not be easy surely for our valued residents who are already struggling to pay bills. However, there is nothing that we can do. We have been rendered helpless because of the prevailing economic challenges and we plead with you to dedicate the little money you have towards paying rates and water services to the local authority.”
Clr Makombe said although the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has already approved the 2020 budget tariffs, his council had been forced to increase levies by 75 percent due to inflationary macro-economic challenges bedevilling the economy.
“Currently people are paying 50 percent tariffs of the approved 2020 budget so we are pleading for an additional 25 percent. It’s not like the hike is coming from nowhere, it’s from an already approved budget, but we have been increasing in phases taking cognisance of the economic hardships faced by the country,” he said.
Clr Makombe said the move to review the tariffs was necessitated by the hyperinflationary environment. He said he council was struggling to match revenue inflows with expenditure.
“In the month of June we collected $11 million against a projection to make use of $14 million for service provision and $5 million for salaries. Add the maths, it’s a miracle that we are still surviving,” he said.
However, Gweru Residents Forum director, Mr Charles Mazorodze, accused the council of making unilateral decisions before consulting residents.
“As residents we have just come to endorse what you already agreed upon,” he said.
“There is a need to consult us first before making such decisions.”