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Masvingo budget rejected

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MASVINGO — Residents have objected to the local authority’s $14, 7 million budget, which proposes to push up next year’s rates and tariff charges by 60% and 80% respectively.

Residents accused council of ignoring their objections during the budget consultative meetings.

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.

But about 1 080 residents, represented by the Masvingo United Residents’ and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) have petioned Masvingo Urban MP Tongai Matutu and the Local Government, Urban and Rural Development ministry challenging the proposals.

Part of the petition reads: “We as residents are not happy with the budget proposal especially on proposed tariffs.

“In the final budget consultative meeting held on 8 November 2011, we indicated that the maximum we could pay as tariffs is $15 per household in the high-density areas, which would mean an increase of 50% from what we are currently paying, but to our shock, you indicated an increase by 80% in the proposed budget, which, to us, is extortionate.”

MURRA programmes co-ordinator Anoziva Muguti said the city fathers failed to factor in administrative costs in the budget, leaving residents in the dark on what percentage goes towards salaries.

Mayor Alderman Femius Chakabuda professed ignorance over the objections, insisting the budget would soon be forwarded to the ministry for approval.

Presenting the 2012 budget, chairman of the council’s finance committee Councillor David Chimombe blamed the proposed increase on unpaid service charges by government departments and parastatals.

Chimombe said most departments had not paid anything over the past year, prompting the local authority to seek the services of debt collectors.

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