By Nhau Mangirazi
Karoi, September 26, 2016 – DEFAULTING rate payers in Karoi have been blamed for the farming town’s continued failure to meet its 2016 revenue targets amid revelations only 15 percent of an estimated $6,166,025 budget total was collected as of end of July this year.
Finance and Investment committee chairman councillor Abel Matsika said he was greatly disappointed that although residents and businesses had shown enthusiasm to honour their dues during a consultative meeting held last year, revenue collection this year declined drastically, affecting council operations.
Presenting the 2017 budget at a special full council meeting in the town recently, councillor Matsika said the 2016 margins were worrisome.
“It is with great displeasure to inform you that the 2016 budget underperformed by worrying margins,” he said.
“This is despite the fact that it was crafted with active participation and participative involvement of stakeholders, residents and ratepayers.”
He continued: “From the outlook, it gave the impression of 100 percent ownership by the Karoi community. There was high hope that the 2016 budget would perform as aligned by ministry directive on rationalisation of management salaries and benefits but there was a huge decrease in the number of residents coming up to pay rates.”
He said the beleaguered authority only collected a paltry of 15 percent of its 2016 budget of $6,166,025 as of July 31, 2016.
Debtors account for $3,991,295.59 of council books while creditors are owed $1,855,746.
Matsika admitted that the poor performance of the budget impacted negatively on programs and efforts to clear salary arrears for council employees, among other challenges.
To boost council coffers, Matsika said the authority would grant 10 percent discount on all outstanding bills cleared between October 1 and December 31, 2016.
Other measures being employed by the authority were the planned servicing of 957 residential stands.
To avoid a recurrence of the 2016 disaster, Matsika said council workers will intensify its the authority’s revenue collection efforts for both outstanding rates in 2016 and those set for the 2017 budget.
He also called for a more collaborative effort by all council departments to ensure the authority does not fall behind again in meeting its targets.
“The disjoint and discord that characterised our departments should become a thing of the past,” he said.
Matsika also pleaded with council chairman, Richard Ziki to speed up plans to take over water services from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) as part of its revenue collection measures.
“If council has monopoly on water, 70 percent of all the debts will be collected and this will boost our revenue base. Mr Chairman can you please act on the move to have water under council to ease our challenges,” he said.