Someone has to make a town work!

And in the case of Storms River, it’s one ward committee member rather than the municipality, “which is nowhere near functional” — a trend I was to encounter almost throughout the Eastern Cape.  It is one of the worst-performing municipalities in SA.

Storms River falls under KouKamma Municipality.  The 2015/6 budget shows capital expenditure of R19,2 million. It’s budgeted to receive R19,9 million in capital grants from national government sources.

Operational expenditure of R130.9 million is budgeted for but total revenue is R107.9 million.  Operating grants total R43.2 million.  The current collection rate for revenue services is below 50%.

The municipality is largely grant-dependent, with over 40% of its income coming from national government.

Employee-related costs and the remuneration of councillors is R47,920,000 — compared to R29,331,000 in 2011/2.  Apparently the speaker/mayor, the municipal manager and top five officials are paid almost R6 million a year.  Are they worth that in a struggling economy?

Bob Reid
Bob Reed has been a member of Storms River’s ward committee for 12 years

Bob Reed bought property in the village in 1998 and has been a ward committee member for 12 years.  His main goal is to maintain the prosperity, viability and tranquility of the village.

But he has been successful in other areas too.  By getting the village recategorised by Eskom, electricity costs for the village’s 80 electrical points dropped by 55%!

He points out that all the municipality does for Storms River is refuse removal.

It’s the Tsitsikamma Tourism Association that tidied up the village’s signage.  And the village’s biggest windfall was national government funding of R177 million for road repairs after the Langkloof floods.  And that it was given to the Sarah Baartman District Municipality to spend, who spread it throughout the municipal areas.

The municipal building inspector doesn’t have enough authority to act on problems in the village and it’s left largely to the ward committee to address these issues.

Appointments made with officials at the municipal offices in Kareedouw are rarely kept, but Bob doesn’t let that stop him.  He finds the next person in line and gets them to take the decisions.  It works!

A lot of faith and hope is being placed in the 2016 municipal elections.  KouKamma is a borderline municipality now and it could easily go to the DA next year.  As it should with a mayor found guilty of drunken driving and allegations about fraud and/or theft by municipal manager and a director.  Citizens deserve better.

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