While thousands of its residents have lost their income due to the economic downturn brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Johannesburg has apparently tabled a “business-as-usual budget”, complete with hikes for councillors, and raised tariffs for taxpayers.
The Organisation Undoing Taxa Abuse (Outa) has criticised the city for failing to take into account the dire economical consequences the Covid-19 lockdown has inflicted on city residents. Outa says the city continues to ignore the reality, but continues to award itself with salary increases.
Outa project manager Tim Tyrrel says in a statement: “The city has presented a ‘business as usual’ budget complete with salary hikes and unaffordable rate and tariff increases.”
He believes the budget is an insult to sacrifices made by city residents who have endured pay cuts and retrenchments during the lockdown, with tens of thousands still unable to return to work under the current Level 3 regulations.
According to Tyrrel, the draft budget includes an across-the-board 4.9% property rates increase, to bring in an additional R1 billion.
The proposed increase in employee-related costs sits at 5.4%, while councillor remuneration is budgeted to increase at 6.4%, which will add R843.5 million to the city and its residents’ expense bill.
“This is an affront to every hardworking resident of this city who is no doubt outraged by this callous disregard of their financial pain and suffering as a result of the country’s extended Covid-19 lockdown.
“Since 2009, the city has underspent by R28.6 billion on repairs and maintenance.”
Tyrell has called on residents to exercise their rights and comment on this budget before 23 June.