Chegutu local authority last week finished preparations for the 2012 budget and announced it would soon embark on a number of consultative meetings with residents to seek approval before handing it over to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development.
Town treasurer Shepherd Kamba said the local authority was looking at an upward movement in the budget to allow the city to service a $1,95 million loan accessed from Africa Development Bank (ADB) to fund capital projects expected to be rolled out next year.
In 2011 Chegutu worked on a $5,16 million budget, but intends to push it up to $6,587 million this year to cover the ADB loan and another one of $550 000 accessed from the government through the Public Sector Investment Programme.
Of the $1,95 million loan from ADB, the municipality has allocated $700 000 to buying and installing water meters in the only town which has been supplying water to residents without as system to bill them accordingly.
“We have never billed residents based on consumption, all of our charges were fixed because our residents don’t have water meters.
“However, this project will see us billing residents based on consumption and this will improve revenue collection and management of resources. Our budget will therefore have to factor in the cost of servicing the debt from ADB,” said Kamba.
Chegutu, with 50%-plus unemployment, is currently owed $5,5 million by business and residents in unpaid rates and faces an uphill challenge in pushing through the proposed budget.
“We have no industry in Chegutu and the only industry which used to employ most of our residents is David Whitehead, which has since closed.
“To date over 50% of our residents who are not employed and have not been able to pay even a cent towards service delivery since dollariastion,” said Kamba.
The local authority employs 285 workers whose collective wage bill is $171 000 per month while the municipality collects $200 000 per month in revenue.