Knysna Municipality is preparing to act against debtors who are in arrears on their municipal accounts. “These will include residential customers, businesses and government departments,” said Councillor Sharon Sabbagh, member of the town’s Mayoral Committee for Finance and Economy.

The Municipality’s current debtors book reflects outstanding debt (90 days or more) of just shy of R276 million. These include organs of the state (R3.322m), businesses (R80.77m) and domestic ratepayers (R191.883m).

“The Municipality has been far too lenient in the past regarding unpaid accounts, but this is about to change,” she said. “We will initially focus on accounts that are R5 000 or more in arrears. These account holders can expect to be contacted to arrange payment. But be warned: should their accounts not be settled, they will face the consequences as per the Municipality’s approved credit control policy. We also urge those who are in arrears for lesser amounts to please settle their accounts and implore all customers to start paying their municipal accounts on a monthly basis. We acknowledge that billing errors may occur and ask that customers who dispute their accounts lodge their concerns so that their accounts can be corrected and updated.

“Municipal rates, tariffs and taxes exist to enable municipalities to deliver basic services to their residents, services that are directly compromised due to unpaid accounts. It’s easy to blame an institution for the seemingly poor delivery of services, but, in most cases, this is not due to incompetence, but to the lack of funds,” Sabbagh explained. “This is often directly related to our customers not paying us.

“Keep in mind that we are essentially running a business. We must pay staff and service providers and purchase and maintain equipment that allows us to deliver basic services. No private business will allow its customers to accrue millions of rands worth of debt, and neither will we.

“I take the liberty of thanking those residents who settle their accounts on time and in full. We appreciate your diligence and efforts in working with us to create and maintain an inclusive, innovative and inspired Knysna,” she concluded.

For more information or queries, please contact Gloria Jantjies on 044 302 6542, Calvin McCarthy on 044 302 6470 or Gail Windvogel on 044 302 6581.