Chinhoyi residents force council to cut tariffs

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CHINHOYI — The Municipality of Chinhoyi has given-in to pressure by residents and ratepayers to whittle down its proposed tariff regime for the $14 million budget for 2012.

The council, which began its budget consultative meetings last month in all the 15 wards, was proposing the adoption of budget almost similar to last year’s, but ratepayers felt other charges such as shop licences were exorbitant.

Small-to-medium entrepreneurs in the town argued they were struggling to pay the annual $400 charged for operating licences. The local authority had pegged the operating licence fees of between $400 and $1 400, amounts described by many as “extortionate”.

As a result last month municipal authorities closed many business premises operating illegally after operators failed to pay the fees. Chinhoyi council finance committee chairman Councillor Divies Zinduru said last Friday the local authority would be forced to reduce the charges by 50%. He said there was need for the 2012 budget to have the buy-in of the residents and ratepayers.

“My committee has gathered from the budget consultations so far, that there is need for a 50% reduction in some tariffs particularly shop operating licences. People ought to have ownership of the budget,” said Zinduru.

Chinhoyi council is struggling to recover $9 million owed by residents and ratepayers in unpaid rents, rates and other supplementary charges.

Council has extended an incentive scheme in which those in arrears are asked to pay half of their total bill and have the debt written off.

Ward 11 Councillor Tendai Musonza said there was need to give ratepayers a reprieve.
He said already ratepayers were indebted to council, making it “imprudent to continue to overburden defaulters”.

“As council, we need to take that into consideration and peg realistic tariffs which they can afford to pay,” said Musonza.