Mayoral letter 2 – December 2020
Following the departure of two senior officials in the past week, we will shortly move forward to implement remedial measures to improve and correct management practices to effect a positive impact on standards of service delivery.
Over the past few years the Council has been dealing with allegations of financial misconduct and forensic investigations. These incidents are indicative of the challenges encountered in ensuring that effective governance is maintained. Successful local government requires a fine balance between legislation, available budgets, service delivery needs, governance, management and the execution of projects and services. Any disruption of this balance ideally needs to be avoided.
We have encountered such a disruption of the fine balance during the recent decline in refuse collection standards where many residents have expressed their displeasure. We are grateful to the managers who have stepped in to restore service delivery standards. While some administrative processes are still receiving attention, steady progress is being made to restore service standards.
We are heartened by some sage, understanding and encouraging comments expressed by residents who appreciate the complexity of issues that are being dealt with in the municipal space at present. It is so important to remain positive and express hope as we deal with the above issues and those below.
During 2020 we have encountered both the weak economy and the Covid-19 pandemic. We are now experiencing a spike of active positive cases in George and in the Garden Route. As of Monday 7 December the Municipality has 48 staff members in isolation with a total of 159 persons (1 in 9 of the staff complement) who have already experienced the virus (with 4 deaths to date). This should provide some context to the trials being faced. Within the health sector, the George Hospital staff complement is being overwhelmed. As we enter the holiday season, we need to appeal to all our citizens to take extra care in observing the critical health protocols of wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining social distancing, avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated spaces, staying home when feeling sick.
The gross financial effects of Covid-19 on the Municipality is such that the equivalent of one month’s Revenue has either been lost or may not be recovered. An exercise to contain Expenditure has been underway for the past few months as we need to match Expenditure to expected Revenue levels. This remains an ongoing challenge.
Our economy has been adversely affected impacting on both our business and individual customers. We are extremely grateful to our customers who have managed to continue to pay their accounts thereby assisting the Municipality to maintain financial stability since the commencement of the pandemic.
We wish all our residents and visitors a wonderful and safe Festive Season.