Victoria Falls City Council might be forced to reduce its rates after failure by residents to pay, Business Times can report.
Victoria Falls Mayor Somvelo Dlamini saidthat they might consider reducing the rates after consulting with the Ministry of Local Government.
Dlamini also attributed the high rates to error in billing by the local authority as he urged residents with queries to bring forward their complaints.
“We have been having a challenge of residents complaining of high rates for the past two months. I have engaged the treasury department and the Town Clerk and they have acknowledged that there has been an error in billing. I am hoping the issue will be resolved amicably,” said Councillor Dlamini.
Town Clerk Ronnie Dube said residents and council have been affected by the Covid-19 induced lockdown which has seen most residents in Victoria Falls lose their jobs. Victoria Falls relies on tourism.
“Remember Victoria Falls is a single industry city which entirely depends on tourism. However, Council services’ costs are not affected by stagnation of business. We still incur costs in water supply, refuse removal and in other areas of production. These cost build ups forced council to pass on the expense to the residents,’’ Dube said.
Residents in the resort town said they have been choked by high rates imposed by the local authority.
A Victoria Falls resident Sylvia Mapenzauswa said the rates were increased by 400% and most residents are out of employment due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“We want to pay our rates but we are failing because the increase is not justified, most residents in Victoria Falls are not working because the tourism sector has been hard hit by the lockdown,” Mapenzauswa said.
Another resident Casper Mlilo said the council’s budget was badly affected as they have closed or sold their income generating business ventures.
“Council used to be cushioned by money coming from other income generating projects such as beer halls but they have sold all these ventures and now rely on rates from residents which is proving to be difficult,” Mlilo said.