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Wednesday Dec 06, 2017

Cape Town approves drought levy for property owners

The City of Cape Town has approved a drought levy and increased water restrictions to level 6.

While opposition rejected the special drought levy, the DA-led council went ahead to approve the new charges, brushing aside proposals that households be charged according their income. It is, however, subject to a public participation process that will be held early next month. The City looks set to implement the charge from February 1.

On New Year's Day, level 6 water restrictions will kick in, further restricting water usage in order to postpone Day Zero.

This means that residential units consuming more than 10 500 litres a month will be prioritised for enforcement; residents should keep their water usage to 87.5 litres a day; non-residential properties are to reduce consumption by 45% and agricultural users are to reduce consumption by 60%; and the use of borehole water for outdoor purposes is discouraged in order to preserve groundwater resources.

Speaking on the levy, ACDP councillor Grant Haskin said the City had not exhausted all its available financial options.

"Where is the money that you have saved from other programmes? Cape Town is not the only city that is suffering from budget cuts. Like other cities who are suffering from money losses, others have reworked their tariffs to make it more viable for poor households. Others did not raise their surge charges. The City has estimated that water revenue will increase to R500 million. Where is this money?"

Families whose properties are valued under R400 000 will be exempt from the drought charge.

It is proposed that a residential property with a valuation of R800 000 could pay a drought charge of R45 and for a property with a valuation of R1m, the proposed drought charge would be R60.

Properties valued at R4m will be charged R225. A R5 million house will be charged a R280 levy while properties valued between R6m and R7m will be charged between R340 and R420.

The highest charge is R2 800 for property values of R50m or more.

The ANC proposed the drought levy only be charged for properties starting at R1.5m. Those between R400 000 and R1m should be charged according their household income.

ANC councillor Fiona Abrahams said the revised charges would be more beneficial to poorer and middle class families.

Ernest Theron, ANC councillor, said: "You are abusing taxpayers for the mistakes you have made. You ask people to save water but then you punish them for doing so because your coffers are not filling up. That is wrong."

De Lille said there were many citizens prepared to pay a little extra.

"We have been approached by many who said they wanted to make a contribution. The allegations made by some parties are grossly misleading and incorrect. There are people who can pay this. Stop playing politics with this issue. It affects us all," she said.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water affairs, said some capital was sourced from green bonds.

"But remember these monies have to be paid back. The responsibility for bulk water supply is with the national government. We are doing everything we can do. One also needs to remember the drought charge will only be in place for three winters. We will adjust our budgets as and when it is needed. This charge won't be permanent," she said.

At the same Council sitting yesterday, the three officials implicated in allegations of corruption and who were given seven days to say why they should not be suspended, were not suspended. this in order for an independent investigations to continue.

Cape Times

 
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