Proposed four-fold rate hike divides Byo councillors, managers

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE Bulawayo City Council has twice failed to unveil its 2019 second supplementary budget as well as its proposed 2020 budget due to sharp disagreement between councillors and management.

On 16 September, city chair for Finance and Development Committee, councillor Mlandu Ncube was scheduled to present the two budgets in council chambers, but the meeting was postponed to Wednesday this week under unclear circumstances.

The Wednesday meeting was again cancelled amid indications that the majority of councillors were strongly opposed to the proposed budget.

Councillors who spoke to on condition of anonymity confirmed that the proposed budgets have caused disharmony between the councillors and management.

“We have made our position to the Town Clerk and the City Treasurer that there is no way we can approve a 300 % increment for rates. Our people are very poor to the extent that they are failing to pay their current bills. The economic situation is bad out there for us as City Fathers to approve such a huge increment,” said a councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The councillor claimed that management has ignored their advice to explore other revenue generating ways as opposed to burdening already suffering residents.

“We told them (management) that they must find other ways of generating revenue.

“For example, we have mines and quarry sites which are not being utilised. We have also told this management to come up with discounts so that they collect as much as they can to fund council operations but they do not want,” said another councillor.

The councillors vowed to resist the budget.

Finance and Development Committee chairperson councillor Ncube told that both the supplementary budget and the 2020 budget will now be presented this coming Monday.

“We were supposed to present the budget on Wednesday but due to other pressing party programmes, we could not do so. We will however present the budget on Monday next week,” he said.

Ncube however said both blueprints have since been adopted by council.

“As council, we have already deliberated on these budgets and adopted them. On Monday, we will simply be officially presenting the two budgets to the public,” he said.

According to Ncube, the 2020 proposed budget seeks to hike rates by 416 percent of the current budget while the supplementary budget envisages a 300 % rates increment.