Stung by a ballooning $1, 5 million debt owed by government departments, council last week passed a $14, 7 million budget that will push next year’s rates and tariff charges up by 60% and 80% respectively.
In the latest tariff review, commercial high-density rates have shot up from $39 to $79 per month, while each household will have to part with $18 per month from $10 for average sewer, water, supplementary charges and refuse collection.
Presenting the 2012 budget, chairman of the finance committee Councillor David Chimombe blamed the proposed increase on unpaid service charges by government departments and parastatals.
“The level of debtors remains a concern and has affected the quality of service delivery.
“It is sad to note that government has not been forthcoming in settling its debts, but on the other hand demanding priority in allocation of limited resources financed by other stakeholders,” he said.
Chimombe said most government departments had not paid anything to the city council over the past year.
“These problems have resulted in council failing to fully liquidate its obligations.
“Yet the challenge is to come up with a budget that not only fulfils its statutory obligations, but one that will be able to address service delivery demands as well as human resource expectations,” he said.
Chief among the local authority’s bad debtors are the army and police, which council said was incapacitated to force them to pay.
In July, the MDC-T-dominated Masvingo council engaged the services of debt collectors to recover the money it is owed in unpaid rates by the government institutions, including the Grain Marketing Board and the Cold Storage Company, but the exercise yielded no tangible results.