Mayor Newsletter: 8 February 2021
The recent opening of beaches and of liquor stores has hopefully provided a more positive outlook for all of us as we continue to deal with the new normal that we are experiencing since the arrival of Covid-19.
This news has coincided with the ongoing efforts this past week to examine how the Municipality can improve the effectiveness of its operations. The Acting Municipal Manager is leading this process with exercises being undertaken to examine ways of reducing costs while maintaining productivity.
This exercise provides the opportunity for renewal and is essential as the Municipality needs to ensure cost containment measures are put in place to curtail our Expenditure to the level of Revenue being generated.
It is evident from discussions with the business sector that the second Covid-19 wave halted the more positive outlook that had emerged by October. It is apparent that many in the retail sector experienced a year-on-year decline in turnover over December and January in George. This trend is concerning as virtually all of our customer base have been affected to a lesser or greater extent.
This impacts on the Municipality’s finances through the reduction in Revenue and lower debtor collection rates of our monthly accounts and therefore also on cash flow. We are constantly re-examining the estimated effects on our cash flow for the rest of the financial year to 30 June 2021 and the adjustments that will be required.
While we are dealing with the above financial impact we are also in the midst of a major capital expansion project to enlarge the capacities of our waste water and water treatment plants along with refurbishment that will require the funding and affordability of projects amounting to approximately R1 billion over the next three years. Growth in housing stock and other infrastructure in George has continued year by year resulting in the requirement to undertake the expansion. Amendments are being made to policies to enable the appointment of the necessary expertise to manage these projects.
As I have indicated above we live in interesting times as we search for hope, positivity and optimism. From a municipal perspective, we are striving to balance the present challenges while planning for the future. We will be continuing our engagements with the community under the “First Thursday” brand with the intention of holding collaborative discussions with various sectors to inter alia understand how we can facilitate additional economic activity within the George economy. We need to both preserve and grow jobs. This needs to be our constant objective. Any suggestions for such engagements can be forwarded to: firstname.lastname@example.org