By Locadia Mavhudzi
Gweru City Council (GCC) is contemplating taking legal action against defaulting ratepayers in a bid to recover over RTGS$64 million that it is owed for services rendered.
Speaking during the first quarter budget review meeting held at the Mayor’s parlour, GCC acting director of finance, Mr Owen Masimba, said as at March 31, debtors owed council a total of $64 269 709.
He said the local authority would soon take legal action against defaulters.
Mr Masimba urged residents to approach council with payment plans to clear their debts.
“Although as council we are reluctant to take that route, very soon demand letters, summons and writs of execution will be sent to defaulters. As at March 31, debtors owed council a total of $64 269 709, with most ratepayers failing to honour their obligations,” he said.
Mr Masimba said the local authority was failing to deliver critical services in the first quarter of the year owing to low revenue collections.
He said income from critical services such as water, social services and roads have been very minimal in the first quarter.
“Council collected RTGS$1 million from water charges against a budget of RTGS$4,2million in the whole quarter, RTGS$30 000 from the health sector against a projected budget of RTGS$234 000 and for roads we have not yet received anything from Zinara,” Mr Masimba said.
“You will realise that we now have a floating exchange rate regime which was initially pegged at RTGS 2.5:1 USD Nostro, that same rate has taken a knock to RTGS$3.5:USD1. The volatility of the exchange rate means council will be forking out three times more than budgeted. The effect is that council budget is now underfunded by 200 percent. However, in line with the transitional stabilisation programme, council will respond by coming up with a supplementary budget in May/June 2019 to cushion its operations from the inflationary and exchange rate pressures currently obtaining.”
Mr Masimba said residents should brace for an upward adjustment of council bills in the supplementary budget that is on the cards. The Chronicle