THE Victoria Falls Town Council has said it is owed $6,6 million in outstanding rate payments and the figure is increasing as the liquidity crisis continues to plague residents.
The resort town’s mayor Sifiso Mpofu told Southern Eye Business that he was alarmed at the rate ratepayers were defaulting.
“The local authority was owed $6,6 million by the end of January 2015 and that figure is increasing every month,” Mpofu said.
“Over the years, the local authority has been rolling out a number of strategies to entice ratepayers to honour their obligations, but yielded less than desired responses,” he said.
Mpofu said some of the strategies his council had adopted since dollarisation included personalised appeal letters to each ratepayer requesting settlement of outstanding bills; appeals through ward councillor meetings and budget review meetings; appeals through residents’ associations and other pressure groups.
And also had one-on-one engagements; roadshows to educate ratepayers on the need to pay their obligations for better service delivery outcomes; discounted initiatives on ratepayers clearing balances to current month and payment arrangements.
As a last resort, Mpofu said the local authority sought legal action against defaulting ratepayers, but this too had proved fruitless.
Mpofu said his council had prioritised basic service provision as its chief mandate, among other services that it provides to both local communities and tourists.
He said the town had managed to continuously attract and retain high tourism inflows by offering high quality services in portable water and clean town surroundings to safeguard the health of tourists.
He said the infrastructure (road, water, sewage, among others) was constantly improved and maintained at certain internationally acceptable levels to allow various places to be accessible and user friendly to visitors.
Mpofu added that the municipality ensured that development on national parks was minimal to maintain the flora and fauna of the town and that there was strict adherence to environment and wildlife policies, by-laws and acts.
Last year, the council approved a $20 million budget for 2015, an increase from the 2014 budget of $17,5 million.