CITY OF CAPE TOWN SEEKS TO TAX CITIZENS TO PLUG BUDGET HOLE

The City of Cape Town point blank refuses to let go of their plan to plug the R1.7bn hole in their budget via a Tax on households. This shortfall came about as the City introduced stringent water restrictions on the citizens of Cape Town as a result of the drought and their predicted Day Zero.

Nielsen from the Mayco of the city: “Council is facing a R 1.7 billion deficit in the current financial year as a result of the strict water restrictions and consequent loss of income.”

During the public participation process around the Drought Charge, the City received 61,002 emails from angry Cape Town citizens who opposed the 10% Drought Charge, calculated on the value of property rates bills. 91% of these emails were sent from a citizen’s initiative website, www.dearcapetown.co.za.

By 19 January the city had processed 36 444 (60%) of the emails they received. The city did not even have the courtesy to process all of the emails before they rushed to concoct an alternative means to Tax citizens.

The three major objections identified by the city are;

  • Unfair and punitive 34.76%
  • Bad Planning 21.89%
  • Overtaxed 14.59%

However, these clear objections fell on deaf City official’s ears as the city responded by immediately proposing a tax of 8% be slapped on top of Property Rates accounts as an alternative.

It is, therefore, the same Tax applied to another service as an attempt to plug the R1.7 deficit. This money is not for any water augmentation solution.

The respondents of the public participation process further offered solutions including sourcing funding from Central Government or the City accessing funds from the bonds market. None of the proposals received from respondents proposes a Property Tax as a solution.

It is clear the City is wholly confused as their attempts to plug the hole in their budget is “marketed” to citizens as “money needed to augment our water supply”. In reality, the money is needed to balance their books. To date, the city has awarded R1,5 Billion Rand in tenders for desalination and borehole solutions to augment the water supply. Residents have yet to witness a single completed project and are asking questions over why investigations at Monwabisi and Strandfontein reveal heaps of pipes, but no signs of desalination plant construction.

Water experts including, Anthony Turton seriously question the workability of the borehole solutions, as the laying of pipes from the boreholes to the reticulation system and purifying plants will be over private land as there are servitude issues.

The city appears too stubborn to change its ways and is not listening to the public. Instead, the voice of the people is warped and misconstrued to suit ineffective and decades-old solutions. If the city’s methods were effective, the water security issue would have been addressed in a more holistic manner and DAY ZERO would not be an issue.

Residents call on the City to change their ways and to adjust to the South African economy where salary increases are below inflation and the country’s GDP is under 1%. The city simply cannot continue to slap above-inflation increases onto ratepayers for every service.

The city needs to be reformed immediately by realising they cannot operate in isolation and pass the financial buck via taxing citizens when money is needed.

Statement by GCTCA – Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance

STATEMENT BY THE GREATER CAPE TOWN CIVIC ALLIANCE ON THE CITY’S PLAN TO LEVY A WATER SURCHARGE ON PROPERTY

It is with absolute dismay that the GCTCA noted the announcement that the City of Cape Town levy property owners with a drought charge to fund income shortfall as a result of water saving.

The GCTCA has for many years officially objected to the deeply flawed property valuation methodology. To now use this same flawed valuation to calculate yet another tax is farcical. It is our opinion that it is grossly unfair and irrational to ask residents to save water, and then when as a consequence, the income from water usage is reduced that the very people who saved water must now be punished with a drought levy. The same happened with saving electricity. Obviously, revenue for the City will drop and uncaring councillors will then take the easy way out by just simply taxing the already over-taxed ratepayer more. The ratepayers were always made to understand that we paid for the cost of availing water to our households. But since the unintended consequence of saving water or electricity is a drop in income, the City sees the need to impose a penalty on docile ratepayers instead of looking to other savings. From 1st July 2017 non-indigent ratepayers lost the free basic allocation of 6kl for water and 4.2kl for sanitation. This resulted in the city receiving hundreds of millions of rands more from the already overburdened ratepayers.

It is grossly unfair and unjust to look to the ratepayer to cover this shortfall in income. What about recovering the huge amounts wasted by the Executive Mayor and City manager in attempts to dismiss mangers and senior staff who happen to disagree with them. It would be interesting to know exactly how much the City spent so far during the tenure of the current political rulers on legal fees and consultants in an effort to get rid of managers. A case comes to mind where the court had ruled that a senior employee must be reinstated and his salary for the long time that he was unemployed be paid by the City. That cost and well as the cost of the legal battle should be claimed from those who initiated the unfair dismissal. Its time that the arrogance of power be quantified in terms of cost to the ratepayer and such cost be demanded from the political and administrative heads of our City government. No need to burden the ratepayer further. We suggest that the time has come that the ratepayers of Cape Town stand up and demand that wasteful expenditure be claimed from errant politicians and officials to cover the shortfalls. This is crisis time. Should we not reconsider the huge cost of employing so many councillors, with trappings of office and all. Even though we hear of the freezing of lower level posts in the city there has been an alarming increase in the number of executive level positions such as within the Mayor’s office and the appointments of “Mini Mayors”. If we had some insight into overspending on luxurious offices, while there is sufficient space in the huge City buildings throughout the Metro, we might begin to understand the need for this ridiculous hare-brained scheme of a drought levy.

We are concerned that the reported income of billions of rand from water restriction levies and other sources are apparently no where to be found to help out now. Has the time not arrived for the Mayor to come clean and tell the ratepayer what happened to previous levies collected. Should we not know how much money was raised for water assistance programmes and how that is being applied? Besides the required fiscal discipline and severe austerity measures there are other methods of funding such as private sector investment. The City’s R1bn ‘Green Bond’ as example was totally oversubscribed. It was reported that within two hours, 29 investors made offers totalling R4.3bn. However, Civil Society will need to fight tooth and nail to prevent any commoditisation of water. Humanity will find itself on a slippery slope when the most basic need for life is in the hands of those geared around financial profit.

From all accounts well aired in our local media, the City had at least five years to prepare to meet this crisis. Alternative water resources, such as desalination could have been considered long ago. It will not be a surprise if we read in the newspapers tomorrow that somewhere, someone, had been paid millions for reports to frustrate the idea of alternative water supplies.

The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance calls upon ratepayers to rise up and resist this absurd and hugely stupid idea of a drought levy. We encourage household to continue its great efforts to save water but we will not stand idly by while being bullied just because some arrogant power crazy politico thinks (mistakenly) that the Cape Town ratepayer is a docile, subservient and pliant entity. We call upon the council of the City of Cape Town to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better plan.

‘Lack of empathy’

Letter to the editor from Ursula Schenker, Plumstead

Constantiaberg Bulletin

Many of the elderly are simply devastated by the City of Cape Town’s complete lack of empathy towards its residents by their constant non public participation processes involving service delivery issues.

First it was the municipal rates, then followed the electricity tariff increases according to the value of the property and now because of their failure to plan proactively a water levy is to be implemented.

A request was voted on by full council, which appears to be “the order of the day”, for a proposed water tax, when councillors, who are supposed to be representative of their constituents in council, are thwarting their communities’ efforts of striving towards a “better life for all”, completely negating every promise made when campaigning for their election a little more than a year ago.

The mayor also traumatises residents daily with her radio adverts of how elderly residents, among others, will be
carrying 25-litre buckets of water from strategically placed points when day zero happens. Does she not realise that her utterances are negatively manifesting itself in many?

Being mindful that the old age grant was increased by a mere R90, many who have heeded the call to reduce their water usage are now being rewarded by having to pay a water levy without exhausting all other avenues. It is just ludicrous.

Cape Town Level 6 water restrictions kick in from January

Western Cape Provincial Gazette 7850 1 December 2017

CITY OF CAPE TOWN

PUBLIC NOTICE IN TERMS OF SECTION 36(1) OF THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN WATER BY-LAW, 2010

In view of the ongoing dire drought situation, the Director: Water and Sanitation of the City of Cape Town hereby give notice of level 6 water restrictions and measures as detailed herein.

In summary, key new restriction measures include:

  • residential units consuming more than 10 500 litres per month will be prioritised for enforcement
  • non-residential properties to reduce consumption by 45%
  • agricultural users to reduce consumption by 60%
  • the use of borehole water for outdoor purposes is discouraged in order to preserve groundwater resources

Please note that permission from the National Department of Water and Sanitation is required in order to sell or buy borehole/wellpoint water.

Failure to comply with this notice may constitute an offence in terms of the aforementioned By-Law (or as amended) and the accused will be liable to an admission of guilt fine and, in accordance with Section 36(4) of the Water By-Law, 2010 (or as amended), an installation of a water management device(s) at premises where the non-compliance occurs. The cost thereof will be billed to the relevant account holder.

This notice is effective from 1 January 2018.

LEVEL 6 WATER RESTRICTIONS

The City of Cape Town has implemented Level 6 Water Restrictions, effective from 1 January 2018 until further notice.

RESTRICTIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL CUSTOMERS

  • No watering/irrigation with municipal drinking water allowed. This includes watering/irrigation of gardens, vegetables, agricultural crops, sports fields, golf courses, nurseries, parks and other open spaces. Nurseries and customers involved in agricultural activities or with historical gardens may apply for exemption. For more information, visit www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater.
  • The use of borehole/wellpoint water for outdoor purposes, including watering/irrigating and filling/topping up of swimming pools, is strongly discouraged in order to preserve groundwater resources in the current dire drought situation. Borehole/wellpoint water should rather be used for toilet flushing.
  • All boreholes and wellpoints must be registered with the City and must display the official City of Cape Town signage clearly visible from a public thoroughfare.
  • All properties where alternative, non-drinking water resources are used (including rainwater harvesting, greywater, treated effluent water and spring water) must display signage to this effect clearly visible from a public thoroughfare. Visit www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater for further information.
  • No topping up (manual/automatic) filling or refilling of swimming pools with municipal drinking water is allowed, even if fitted with a pool cover.
  • The use of portable or any temporary play pools is prohibited.
  • No washing of vehicles (including taxis), trailers, caravans and boats with municipal drinking water allowed. These must be washed with non-drinking water or cleaned with waterless products or dry steam cleaning processes. This applies to all customers, including formal and informal car washes.
  • No washing or hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved areas with municipal drinking water allowed. Users, such as abattoirs, food processing industries, care facilities, animal shelters and other industries or facilities with special needs (health/safety related only) must apply for exemption. For more information, visit www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater.
  • The use of municipal drinking water for ornamental water fountains or water features is prohibited.
  • Customers are strongly encouraged to install water-efficient parts, fittings and technologies to minimise water use at all taps, showerheads and other plumbing components.

RESTRICTIONS APPLICABLE TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS

  • All residents are required to use no more than 87.5 litres of municipal drinking water per person per day in total irrespective of whether you are at home, work or elsewhere. Therefore, a residential property with four occupants, for example, is expected to use at most 10 500 litres per month.
  • Single residential properties consuming more than 10 500 litres of municipal drinking water per month will be prioritised for enforcement (see note 1). Properties where the number of occupants necessitates higher consumption are encouraged to apply for an increase in quota. For more information, visit www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater.
  • Cluster developments (flats and housing complexes) consuming more than 10 500 litres of municipal drinking water per unit per month will be prioritised for enforcement (see note 1). Cluster developments with units where the number of occupants necessitates higher consumption are encouraged to apply for an increase in quota. For more information, visit www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater.
  • You are encouraged to flush toilets (e.g. manually using a bucket) with greywater, rainwater or other non-drinking water.
  • No increase of the indigent water allocation over and above the free 350 litres a day will be granted, unless through prior application and permission for specific events such as burial ceremonies.

RESTRICTIONS APPLICABLE TO NON-RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS

  • All non-residential properties (e.g. commercial and industrial properties, schools, clubs and institutions) must ensure that their monthly consumption of municipal drinking water is reduced by 45% compared to the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought). (See note 1 below.)
  • All agricultural users must ensure that their monthly consumption of municipal drinking water is reduced by 60% compared to the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought). (See note 1 below.)
  • The operation of spray parks is prohibited.
  • No new landscaping or sports fields may be established, except if irrigated only with non-drinking water.
  • For users supplied with water in terms of special contracts (notarial deeds, water service intermediaries or water service providers), the contract conditions shall apply.

NOTE 1: Failure to comply will constitute an offence in terms of the City’s Water By-Law, 2010 (or as amended). The accused will be liable to an admission of guilt fine and, in accordance with Section 36(4), an installation of a water management device(s) at premises where the non-compliance occurs. The cost thereof will be billed to the relevant account holder. Customers with good reason for higher consumption need to provide the City with motivation to justify their higher consumption.

Other restrictive measures, not detailed above, as stipulated in Schedule 1 of the Water By-Law, 2010 (or as amended) still apply.

Exemptions issued under Level 4B and 5 restrictions still apply, subject to review with the possibility of being revoked. Water pressure has been reduced to limit consumption and water leaks, and such may cause intermittent water supply.

Level 6 water restrictions hit Cape Town — as well as a ‘drought levy’

Aphiwe Deklerk and Petru Saal for BusinessDay

Capetonians will have to reduce water use even more in the new year.

The City of Cape Town’s level 6 restrictions‚ which will come into force on January 1‚ will restrict residential households to 10‚500 litres a month and compel non-residential customers to cut their water consumption by 45% compared with 2015.

The agricultural sector has been ordered to reduce water usage by 60%‚ sparking a warning on Tuesday from Agri-Western Cape spokesperson Jeanne Boshoff that farmers would have to restrict themselves to higher-value crops.

“This has already resulted in less vegetables being planted in the Ceres area‚ and to fruit trees being cut back. This means smaller crops‚ which is putting the entire agricultural sector in the Western Cape under enormous pressure‚” she said.

A notice in the Government Gazette said: “In view of the ongoing dire drought situation‚ the director, water and sanitation of the City of Cape Town hereby gives notice of level 6 water restrictions and measures.”

As well as the restrictions on the use of municipal water‚ the notice says: “The use of borehole water for outdoor purposes is discouraged in order to preserve groundwater resources. Borehole/wellpoint water should rather be used for toilet flushing.”

Mayor Patricia De Lille told a city council meeting on Tuesday that a drought levy will be introduced in the new year. Houses that use more than 10‚500 litres of water a month‚ as well as complexes using more than that per unit‚ would be “prioritised for enforcement”.

The proposed drought charg is‚ to be implemented from February 1 if Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba gives the go-ahead. A resident with a property valued at R600,000 could expect to pay R35 a month and a commercial property owner whose building is valued at R500,000 may pay R60 a month.

“The reason for this is simple: our survival‚ we all simply need water to survive‚” De Lille told the council. She added that lower water consumption meant the city council was facing a R1.7bn shortfall in water revenue.

The temporary charge will be in place for four years and the city is looking to raise R1bn a year. Residents associations‚ business and opposition parties have harshly criticised the city council for the proposal‚ saying it had failed to act early to avert water shortages brought about by the drought.

The city’s planned water augmentation projects include desalination‚ groundwater extraction and water re-use. “The funds [from the levy] will mainly be used for the day-to-day provision of drinking water and also to ensure there is sufficient budget available to spend on emergency water augmentation projects if we need them‚” De Lille said, adding that the drought charge was not meant to be punitive and that her administration had already diverted R473m from other departments in the city to fund its water projects.

Said De Lille: “I am appealing [to] councillors and residents to work with the city and see this as a necessary step to keep the water in the pipes and‚ as far as possible‚ avoid the disastrous implications of ‘day zero’ and the introduction of collection points.”