Electricity up for Knysna residents after draft budget release

Knysna executive mayor Aubrey Tsengwa released the municipality’s draft budget this week
BALANCING THE BOOKS: Knysna executive mayor Aubrey Tsengwa released the municipality’s draft budget this week

Residents in the Knysna municipality will have to dig even deeper into their pockets as electricity prices are expected to increase by 14.98%.

On Wednesday council noted the 2024/25 draft budget tabled by mayor Aubrey Tsengwa that will now go out for public participation.

Other increases on the cards include property rates, water services and sewerage charges, which are likely to increase by 4.60%.

Refuse removal could increase by 10%.

The proposed electricity price increase is subject to approval by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).

The executive mayor’s draft budget for the town did not sit well with some of the councillors, who raised concerns over the decrease of funds allocated to the town despite it having service delivery challenges. 

The operating budget for running the municipality is R1.22bn, while the capital budget is R23.3m.

An additional R55.12m for capital projects will be funded by grants from the national government, while R10.4m is expected from the provincial government.

“Directorates directly involved with basic service delivery have been allocated a high portion of the funds,” Tsengwa said.

“This was a deliberate attempt to address the current challenges faced by the municipality.

“Approximately R8.9m has been allocated from internally generated funds to augment the other grants in addressing challenges relating to sewerage reticulation, roads and stormwater drains in the technical services directorate.”

On Wednesday, Tsengwa’s budget was met with mixed reviews with councillors from the opposition benches, unhappy with the reduced allocations for some departments.

An amount of R32.2m was allocated for various housing projects, which is almost half of what the allocation was in the previous financial year.

DA councillor Luzuko Tyoko said the decrease in the housing grant was enormous, compared to previous years when housing in Knysna was funded with about R60m. 

“We understand that spending the budget inadequately may have caused the budget cuts,” Tyoko said.

“We know the provincial and national departments have also made some cuts in various grants. 

“However, with the town appearing in the media for ageing infrastructure and the mayor doing interviews, I thought the infrastructure would be highlighted and more would be allocated towards that department, but nothing speaks to that.”  

In the draft budget the infrastructure department was allocated R10m, which ANC councillor Thando Matika believes to be an improvement, compared to the R3.4m that was allocated in the previous year.

Councillors, we must remember that this is a draft budget that still needs to go through public participation and be approved, and will be amended where necessary,” he said. 

DA councillor Peter Bester emphasised that Tsengwa needed to look into the budget of the infrastructure as he was not happy with the R10m allocation. 

Bester said the budget would not be able to address service delivery and that there was no proper allocation made for sewage going to the Knysna estuary. 

“Water is a necessity to the people and we need a budget that will focus on that,” he said.

“I suggest that you take the budget back, redo it and make sure you cover appropriate needs of the town.” 

The municipality has set aside R2m that will be distributed towards electricity initiatives. About R1.2m has been allocated for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).



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