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Budget blues

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Budget blues

by Shahista Rohan-Toefy
11 Jun 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

APPARENT under-spending of ward allocations has led to the questioning of Subcouncil 17.

There are only three weeks left before the end of the city council's financial year, and Subcouncil 17's report as at the end of April indicated that the bulk of the money budgeted for ward allocations had not been used. The report states that 3,4% of the R3 million budget - or R101 763 - had been spent as at the end of April.

A total of three out of 36 budgeted projects reflected expenditure. All the rest had a round zero next to them, indicating no expenditure as at the date of the report.

Charlotte Williams, chairperson of Subcouncil 17, said in the subcouncil's defence that the report, included in a meeting agenda released on 22 May, reflects inaccurate figures. Apparently, due to the printing process and compilation of the agenda, the figures were outdated. Williams committed to providing the accurate figures by Monday, 9 June. But on Monday, Williams explained she could not provide the figures as they have not been viewed at a subcouncil meeting yet.

Williams said ward councillors often submit their reports after deadline, resulting in inaccurate figures. Williams said she joined Subcouncil 17 in October 2007 and that at the time it had no manager.

She also said she is the fifth chairperson of the subcouncil in a two year period, and that heavy staff turnover has contributed to the bad state of the subcouncil.

When asked whether or not she is struggling to manage, as the subcouncil seems to be in chaos compared to others, she replied, "This is what I inherited".

However, Williams said that the money will be spent before the end of the financial year and that if it is not spent, the money will roll over to the next year.

Williams said she has called a meeting with Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille this Wednesday to discuss the under-spending.

As a final comment, Williams said people in the community should make suggestions to the ward councillors as to how the money should be spent in their areas.

"They know better than the councillors what is needed and should speak up."

The mayor's spokesperson, Robert MacDonald, said he did not know the details of the expenditure, but to his knowledge the billing of projects comes right at the end of the financial year, which could explain why the money was not recorded as having been used.

Charlotte Tabisher, councillor for Ward 49, said her whole budget was used and gave a breakdown of what the money was used for.

Her capital budget was used for paving in Downing Street in Bokmakierie; the widening of Clover Crescent in Silvertown; and a fence for Cornflower sports field in Bridgetown.

Her operational budget was shared amongst organisations that help the community.

Abduragiem Orrie, councillor for Ward 46, said he was in hospital for heart surgery and can only focus on his ward now. He said all his projects are in progress and will be completed before the end of the financial year.

Mustapha Murudker, councillor for Ward 48, ran through the projects he had proposed for the year - the closing of tree holes in Bamford Close is complete; restoration of toilets and water points in South Avenue Park is in progress; a basketball court in St Frusquin Road is in progress; installation of lighting in Belthorn's public open space is complete; surfacing of Emerald Court in Gatesville is pending; the building of a footway, curb and channel in Bilston Road in Crawford is in progress; and fencing of the Gatesville sports ground in Hazel Road is complete. His operational budget was also shared amongst community organisations.

Pat Hill, councillor for Ward 60 - which includes Lansdowne, Kenwyn, Rondebosch East and Wetton - has put most of his capital ward allocation into security for parks.

Hill's operating budget of R200 000 went to the Woodside Special Care Centre, which received a R10 000 grant in aid; road markings to the value of R40 000 were undertaken, and R150 000 was allocated to the maintenance of parks.

Residents reported that they noticed their parks had all been given a fresh splash of paint. Councillor Kenneth Lategan, Hanover Park councillor, spent his entire operational budget on grants-in-aid.

Lategan says he cannot remember all the figures or organisations involved off-hand, and subcouncil could not provide the figures before the time of going to print. At the beginning of last year, Lategan planned to spend his entire capital allocation on a set of traffic lights.

After consultation with the community, he decided to go with the surfacing of the verges in Hanover Park Avenue, which would cost R120 000. A further R55 000 was spent on a raised speed bump at the entrance to the public swimming pool in Surren Road, and another where the road takes a bend. He allocated R125 000 to high-mast lighting close to the taxi rank, where crime is reportedly a problem.

Subcouncil 17 consists of Ward 46, Ward 47, Ward 48, Ward 49, Ward 52 and Ward 60

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