DEAR CAPE TOWN – No words … From Grant Harley Haskin of the ACDP
CITY ADJUSTS 2017/18 BUDGET FOR 4th TIME – FAILS AGAIN.
* New Water Dept Head Office costing R378 million.
* Cape Flats Aquifer budget REDUCED by R20 million.
* R23 million being spent on office furniture.
* Water Reclamation Project REDUCED by R60 million.
* R27 million being spent on IT equipment.
My speech at todays Council meeting:
This Adjustments Budget has been lauded as the one that resolves the funding mechanisms for the urgently needed Water Augmentation schemes to stave off Day Zero.
In doing so, we have been assured repeatedly that the City is rigorously reprioritizing its budget, trawling it for all unnecessary expenses that can be re-phased or deferred to free up funding.
This has provided some comfort and relief to us as opposition parties that the City will finally manage to find the budget and stave off Day Zero.
It’s particularly important given the huge public outcry. We agree with Capetonians: Why should they be forced to fund revenue shortfalls and more importantly why should they do so when the City is clearly determined to proceed with unnecessary expenditure that will NOT stave off Day Zero. We were promised this would not be the case.
So lets see if the City has cancelled unnecessary expenditure and put its money where its mouth is when the City says “A well run City will not run out of water”
· We note that the budget for the Cape Flats Aquifer extraction has been decreased by R40 million to R260 million.
· The budget for Water Reclamation has dropped from R80 million to R20 million.
· The budget for renovations to the Good Hope Centre has been retained at R4 million.
· The Grand Parade will still be upgraded for R1 million.
· The City Hall will be revamped, costing R10 million.
So by June 2018, possibly in our third month of Day Zero but the Good Hope Centre, City Hall and Grand Parade will have been revamped. That is poor budget prioritizing.
The one consolation is that these are public benefit amenities.
But worse than that, almost R1 million will be spent by Ward Councillors on one-off functions costing an average of R60,000 per event. And almost R200,000 will be spent by Ward Councillors on Loud Halers and similar public address systems.
What message does this send to water saving Capetonians.
It gets worse:
· R23 million will be spent in the next 6 months on office furniture and equipment.
· And R27 million will be spent on IT equipment across the Departments
What use will new desks, chairs and carpets be when 1,2 million households are without water?
What use will new computers be when over 4 million Capetonians are queueing for water on a daily basis?
The worst offender remains of course the City’s Water and Sanitation Dept, the authors of our #WaterCrisis and now the so-called champions of our Day Zero prevention plan.
When this FY started, this Department had already spent R295 million building its own Head Office, with the Director seemingly awarding his Dept an exemption for excessive water use.
In the last 6 months its already spent R83 million more and according to this Adjustment Budget, it will spend a further R46 million in the next 6 months.
By June 2018, and potentially 3 months into our Day Zero with Level 6B water Restrictions and Capetonians queueing for water, the Dept will proudly be opening its new Head Office, having cost a massive R378 million – one year over due and R197 million over the original budget of R181 million.
The ACDP will be there to throw the first eggs.
This is the 4th opportunity to prioritise this 2017/18 budget correctly to deal with Cape Towns worsening water crisis – and in the ways listed above it is the 4th wasted opportunity. Yet we have to support it for the augmentation projects it funds.