Freedom Mupanedemo, Midlands Bureau
Gweru City Council has proposed a $500 million budget for the year 2020, which will see residents in high density suburbs forking out at least $400 per month in rates.
Acting finance director, Mr Owen Masimba, said the local authority had started consultations with the business community and residents on the proposed budget which he said sought to address the city’s perennial water problems among others.
Mr Masimba said they have since met with the business community over the new budget and the city fathers were now spearheading the ward consultations.
“The proposal is also premised on the fact that not much has been achieved under the 2019 budget and as such it is a standstill budget which is being rolled over by factoring movements in the costs of building up on the various service line items,” said Mr Masimba.
The council’s finance boss added that the local authority was also facing a deficit of more than $ 20 million after the 2019 budget was eroded by inflation.
He said the local authority was also struggling to stock water treatment chemicals due to varying prices of chlorine.
“As of today (yesterday), a single cylinder of chlorine costs at $75 000 and just imagine we have been operating with a 2019 budget which was approved in 2018 so we have a serious budget overrun,” he said.
Mr Masimba said the city was prioritising funding the Amapongobwe Water Project which was likely to eat a big chunk of the proposed budget.
“We hope the economic situation will be stable because if it continues like this it will be very difficult to plan but our major priority is the Amapongobwe Water Project where we are shifting to following the dwindling of water levels at Gwenoro Dam,” he said.
Mr Masimba said they need to buy high level water pumps which take water from the treatment plant to the city.