VICTORIA Falls Municipality, which is owed $6,3 million by residents, has resorted to debt collectors to recover the money from defaulting residents.
Speaking at a full council meeting on Tuesday, town clerk Christopher Dube said the council had issued 231 summons worth $355 000 and more were yet to be issued. He said the court had initially allocated them 50 summons per week, but they had been granted 100 per week.
“We are not doing this to punish residents, but we are trying to make them pay,” Dube explained.
“We feel that disconnecting water is not only illegal, but inhuman, so maybe by taking residents to court they will pay.”
Speaking after the meeting, the town clerk said the council did not expect to recover 100% because of the present economic situation, which is difficult for everyone.
“We interact with residents through ward councillors and most of them are co-operating,” he said.
“Last year we managed to generate about 70% revenue when other city councils were generating about 30%.”
Recently, Victoria Falls was lauded for coming up with innovative schemes to help offset debts from residents. However, the move to engage debt collectors could be an indication the local authority was buckling under arrears weight.
Dube said the council was going to continue maintaining transparency on the use of revenue to avoid a situation where residents complained that the local authority misused funds.
The council is working on a sewer project, setting aside $2 million to develop sewer ponds.
“The constructor has advised us that instead of developing sewer ponds, we rather redesign the whole water-sewer system to keep up with all developments that are happening around our town,” Dube said.
“The project will cost $12 million and the constructor proposed that we could pay the money with 10% interest per annum.”
He said the council was still negotiating for funds and could not give a timeline for the completion of the project.