City cleans up act after money blues

Posted On Wednesday, 01 October 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Johannesburg manages its way to a balanced budget and more efficient services

Property-Housing-ResidentialFIVE years ago the City of Johannesburg was in financial crisis. Its administration was poorly organised, staff were demotivated, and customer care and service delivery were poor.

To address this, the city set out on an extensive administrative reorganisation process.

Over the past 30 months, a longterm vision and strategy, Jo'burg 2030, was put in place. Service delivery has been greatly improved and more residents now enjoy access to high-quality services.

The city is on a sound financial footing. Administration has been centralised, and complemented by 12 companies known as utilities, agencies and corporatised entities.

The core administration consists of three sets of departments. There are departments for service delivery to consumers, such as development planning, finance, metropolitan police and emergency management services; departments that provide internal support services to the rest of the administration, such as human resource development; and departments that set policy frameworks and monitor the work of operational units.

The central health department, for example, sets policy to guide the work of officials in regional administrations and at clinics. This ensures that work is directed by city priorities and that progress towards achieving targets is monitored and assessed. Separate companies deliver specific services. Utilities provide water and sanitation (Jo'burg Water), electricity (City Power) and waste management services (Pikitup).

Agencies focus on roads and stormwater (Johannesburg Roads Agency), parks and cemeteries (City Parks) and economic development (Johannesburg Development Agency).

The corporatised entities include the Johannesburg Zoo, the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, Metrobus, the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market, the Johannesburg Property Company and the Metropolitan Trading Company.

The administration negotiates contracts with each company, holding them accountable to performance targets which are regularly monitored. The 11 decentralised regional administrations bring community services closer to the people. They are responsible for the direct delivery of primary health-care, social services, housing, library facilities, sports and recreation.

The city is making a substantial investment in staff skills development. In the 2001-02 financial year, more than R6m was spent on training and capacity building.

Since the financial crisis in 1997, the situation has been stabilised. The city achieved a balanced budget in the 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 financial years. A healthy cash position has been established and the long-standing bank overdraft eliminated.

Capital budgets have steadily increased since the 1997 crisis, rising from just R295m in 1999-2000 to R1,1bn in 2003-04. This puts the city in a much more favourable position to address infrastructure backlogs and to either renew or replace ageing infrastructure.

Numerous projects aimed at improving revenue have been successfully implemented.

Average annual payment levels have steadily improved since 2000, from less than 85% to 89%. From February to April this year payments were above 90%. The most dramatic improvement has been the collection of regional services council levies, with an increase of nearly 80% since December 2000. Well over R100m a month is now derived from this single revenue stream.

This ensures that service delivery will continue on a financially sustainable basis. The city introduced a social package in 2001-02, to ensure that even the poorest resident was able to obtain basic municipal services without charge.

Johannesburg has been described as the key economic centre of SA, the "engine room" of the subcontinent and a gateway to Africa. It contributes more to the national economy than any other city and its success is key to all South Africans.

Tau is a member of the Johannesburg mayoral committee.

Last modified on Monday, 19 May 2014 09:07

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