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Slurs, pillow-talk insults and heckling during a heated City of Cape Town council meeting didn’t stop the adoption of a budget with controversial new tariffs that will have residents digging deeper in their pockets from July 1.

The City’s R47.7billion budget together with its massive tariff increases and Integrated Development Plan was adopted at a special council meeting on Wednesday. Altogether 139 councillors voted in favour of the budget, while 66 opposition councillors were against it.

Although the revised budget now has lower tariffs, the City’s pipe levy and electricity surcharge of R150 for properties with values in excess of R1million still applies.

Added to that, homeowners with water pipe meter sizes of 15mm would be charged R56, 20mm water meters would add an extra R100 to accounts and those of 25mm would attract a charge of R156.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said during the public participation, which spanned from March 28 until May 4, more than 50400 comments were received from the public.

Not all the comments received were responded to by the City due to the time frames and the large volumes of comments received, De Lille said.

“I am thrilled that the City managed to resolve one of the biggest contentions in the budget with the proposed 26.9% and 55.1% water tariff increases. One month into the public participation process, we had already received more than 24900 comments, of which approximately 80% were tariff-related objections, more specifically objections to the electricity, water and rates tariffs,” De Lille said.

The overall water tariff was decreased from 26.9% to 19.9%, while lower band users (0 to 6 kilolitres) who were initially going to pay 55.1% will now pay 10.1% more. Households using less than 6000 litres per month will therefore pay R28.90 per kilolitre instead of R40.73 per kilolitre as initially proposed, De Lille said.

“Property rates tariff have also been reduced from 7.2% to 6.5%. This will result in a reduction of R65m on property rates revenue,” De Lille said.

The electricity tariff increase remains at 8.1%, the sanitation tariff has also been reduced from 26.9% to 19.9% and the refuse collection tariff remains unchanged at 5.7%.

De Lille said the most significant projects on the budget were:

  • R253m for dark fibre broadband infrastructure.
  • R95m for electrification.
  • R53m for street lighting.
  • R114m for the Bellville Waste Water Treatment Works.
  • R75m for the Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works.
  • R109m for the upgrading of solid waste facilities.
  • R9m for CCTV installations.
  • R21m for cemetery developments.
  • R9m for the construction of the Dunoon Library.
  • R10m for the Manenberg Integrated Project.
  • R14m for the new Fisantekraal Clinic.
  • R20m for the New Pelican Park Clinic.
  • R240m for congestion relief projects.
  • R287m for Integrated Rapid Transit projects.
  • R155m for land acquisition.

Opposition parties have slammed the budget, labelling it “anti-poor”.

Xolani Sotashe, ANC leader in the Cape metro, said there was no reason to pretend that everything was hunky-dory in the City.

He also took a swipe at the allegations of pillow-talk within the City.

“There have been ruthless attempts to replace a constitutionally mandated leadership of the City. There was a premeditated attempt to turn the duly elected mayor away from the City. It has been a well-rehearsed project to get the mayor out of office. We are not going to support this process to legitimise it,” Sotashe said.

ACDP councillor Grant Haskin said never in the history of the City had there been so many mistakes on a budget.

“It is an embarrassment to go through this budget,” Haskin said.

“How could you think that a 55% water increase would be affordable,” he added.

Cope councillor Farouk Cassiem said the number of comments on the budget should be a wake-up call to the DA.