Cape Town`s budget for 2023/24 centres on a record R10,9 billion infrastructure investment budget, surpassing even the 2010 World Cup spend.
At the same time, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said this budget significantly widens the social safety net in the city for residents struggling to make ends meet. “The total social support package is up from R3,75bn to R4,3bn, including R1,96bn in rates rebates and R2,37bn for free basic services. The budget proposes a 50% rates relief increase for all residential properties of R5 million and under, with the first R450 000 of property value now rates-free,” he said during his speech.
Electricity prices and support for the vulnerable
Hill-Lewis said the City has been able to reduce Eskom’s 18,49% increase to 17,6%, and offer significantly more protection for lower income customers on the subsidised Lifeline tariff. “The City fought against Eskom’s increase at every step of the way because it cannot be the job of the City, or its residents, to keep on subsidising Eskom’s increases,” he said. More pensioners and social grant recipients will also benefit from rates rebates, by raising the upper qualifying limit from R17 500 to R22 000 total monthly household income. Households with an income below R7 500, will receive 100% rebate for property rates. Apart from 15kl free water and 10,5kl free sanitation, many residents will also enjoy 60 free units of electricity every month.
Infrastructure investment increase
The City’s R10,9bn infrastructure budget is 40% bigger this year. Major sanitation network investments include a 100% increase in sewer pipe replacement budgets, 330% increase in sewer pump station upgrades over the next three years, and a R8,6 billion for wastewater treatment works upgrades.
The R2,3bn end load-shedding plan includes R220m to buy power on the open market, R288m for the ‘Power Heroes’ voluntary energy-savings incentive scheme, R1bn to operate Steenbras hydro-electric plant, R53m in ‘cash for power’ payments for solar power from residents and business, R640m on City-owned solar plants and R50m in battery storage technology.
The City is proposing its biggest ever Safety budget of R5,8bn for 2023/24, including funds for 85 new Metro Police officers this year alone, and R166 million to expand its Metro Police training college. The budget includes a major R860m investment in safety technology over three years to make Cape Town Safer. This includes CCTV, drones, aerial surveillance, licence-plate recognition, dashcams and bodycams for officers.
R37,8 million for ‘no-cost transfer’ of 2,500 rental units per year over the next three years has been allocated. One of the other initiatives of the City is the roll-out of so called ‘planning support officers’ in townships, whose jobs it will be to help micro developers of small scale rental units to build their units in a way that is safe and compliant.