KEETMANSHOOP - Mariental mayor Adam Kuhlmann said council will strive to provide quality and affordable services for its residents with the current financial year’s budget.
He gave this assurance during the recent tabling of the 2021/2022 financial year’s budget during a council meeting at the Hardap town.
Kuhlmann said the budget made provision for overall expenditure of over N$127 million against a total estimated operating income of N$127.7 million.
“Allow me to make a specific remark regarding council finances. It must be noted that the 2021/2022 budget of council is 95% self-funded,’’ he boasted.
The mayor said the town council is mostly relying on electricity and water sales and assessment rates, with these accounting for the biggest portion of its revenue.
He, nonetheless, expressed concern over the fact that general and staff expenses are taking up 85% of the budget, which might in the end put pressure on revenue collection.
“Council was forced to minimally increase sanitation and sewerage tariffs between seven and eight percent to cushion the rising cost of repairs and maintenance to the ageing network assets,’’ the mayor added.
In monetary terms, the increases, however, amount to between N$1 to N$2.
The repair and maintenance budget will represent close to 3%, or N$3.7 million of the total budget.
“Council also awarded an inflationary salary increase of 3% for staff, as the last salary increase was in 2019,’’ he explained another resolution taken.
The mayor furthermore expressed his appreciation to staff for their patience and goodwill shown in this regard.
“It is the considered view of the town council that the staff members’ wellbeing and satisfaction is paramount in the delivery of services and eventual customer satisfaction,’’ he noted.
Kuhlman said as a means to further enhance service delivery, the municipality has devised an appropriate Covid-19 response to install pre-paid water meters, and further resolved to implement zero rate basic water charges for senior citizens.
“Council will also implement a special rate on electricity for senior citizens that will save them 32 cents per electricity unit cost,” he continued.
The mayor reported that for this year, council envisages to install 1 000 pre-paid water meters and build 200 toilets in the Takarania, Donkerhoek and Ombili informal settlements in town.
The local authority also approved a 5% reduction in assessment rates for businesses after considering their profitability in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the issue of housing, Kuhlmann said it was council’s aim to work with strategic partners in order to build houses for qualifying ultra-low-income earners.
“We intend to redirect a portion of funds earmarked for debt servicing towards the construction of low-cost housing units,’’ he promised.