THE Bulawayo City Council has proposed a $400 billion budget that could see rates hiked by about 50% and residents in high density suburbs paying monthly su
pplementary charges as high as $35 000.
The council is consulting residents on the way forward but sources said this was a formality as the local authority was hard-pressed to raise cash to fund capital projects and service delivery.
The council has scheduled 29 meetings with residents to discuss and get input from ratepayers on the budget.
This week city treasurer, Middleton Nyoni, met with stakeholders at the council chambers, where he tabled council proposals for the 2007 budget and said there was need to consider the hyperinflationary environment.
“This year we set a budget of $3,8 billion which later went up to $6 billion. Even after a supplementary budget in July the budget is not enough to take us through the year as a result of the hyperinflationary environment,” Nyoni said.
The local authority said the 2007 budget would cater for service delivery, poverty alleviation, HIV/Aids programmes and the upgrading of street lights among other projects.
The Bulawayo United Residents Association (Bura) in response to the proposed budget said the environment council is operating in was difficult and that residents should support the budget so that service delivery can improve.
Bura deputy chairperson, Effort Nkomo, said council should take advantage of the rates hike in the budget to offer a better service to residents.
“We know that the new rates will be very difficult for residents in the city but we are saying there is no way council can survive with the current rates and we expect council to deliver a service even in the difficult hyper-inflationary environment,” Nkomo said.
This is the first time in the history of budget consultations in the city that the main residents association has accepted rate increases without putting up a fight.
Under the proposed rate increases supplementary charges in high density areas will go up from $289 to $7 459 while those in the low density areas will fork out $3 014, up from $117.
Water fixed charges in high density will increase from $258 to $5 866 while in low density areas the rate will go up to $11 002 up from $426.
Other charges that were increased are sewer and solid waste management fees.