The Knysna Municipal Council last week (13 December 2012) approved a radical debt recovery programme, which included the writing off of about R30-million of ‘old’ debt on services and interest incurred by ratepayers up to 30 June 2012. The write-off excludes arrears on rates and is tied to stringent provisions for ‘new’ debt incurred from 1 July 2012 onwards. The local authority will also introduce stricter credit control measures linked to pre-paid electricity penalties from 1 July 2013.
Knysna Municipal Manager Lauren Waring explained that the municipality had taken a relatively sympathetic approach regarding debt collection from its ratepayers over the past few years, mainly because of the impacts the global economic downturn has had on all its inhabitants. “However, we cannot continue in this way without putting Council’s finances, and therefore service provision, at risk. The municipality will embark on a significant debt recovery programme that will offer debt relief on the one hand, but will expect of ratepayers to keep their current accounts in the clear.”
Waring said the debt write-off process would start early next year, the details of which would be fully communicated to all clients in various and appropriate ways. “I strongly urge all ratepayers to make every effort to keep their accounts to date, as we will pursue all debt incurred after 30 June 2012. I also thank the very many businesses and individuals who have made an effort to make arrangements to pay off their arrears. The town and its people are intricately dependent upon each other, and are more likely to succeed in their combined goals of a prosperous town and environment when we put our money and efforts together,” she said.