RATEPAYERS & DA CHALLENGE 20% INCREASES FOR MUNICIPAL BOSSES

On 2 August the Democratic Alliance issued the following press statement regarding a recently approved increase in remuneration for the Knysna Municipal Manager and Directors.
The Knysna Democratic Alliance Caucus has delivered its Motion to Rescind the approval of an allowance which increases the salaries of the Municipal Manager and Directors by 20%. The DA’s motion also requires that amounts already paid to the Municipal Manager and Directors in respect of this allowance be recovered.
The Scarce Skills Allowance was approved by a majority of Councillors at a Knysna Council Meeting on 11 June 2019. All DA Councillors, with the exception of Cllr Peter Myers, voted against the approval of this allowance.
According to documents received from the Chief Financial Officer: the Municipal Manager (Dr Vatala) and Directors (Mr Memani, Ms Makoma, Mr Hariparsad and Ms Boyce) have been back-paid R697,790.86 in respect of the scarce skills allowance.
Going forward, the scarce skills allowance will cost Knysna residents an additional R1,385,231.88 per year for the Municipal Manager and Directors.
The 20% Scarce Skills allowance exceeds the upper limits of total remuneration packages payable to Municipal Managers and Directors. The National Minister of COGTA, Minister Mkhize, and the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, MEC Bredell, have stated that these upper limits are valid and enforceable and that municipalities are required to comply therewith.
The Knysna Council claims to currently have insufficient funds to provide basic services such as the repair of potholes and the provision of basic sanitation to all households. It is the view of the Knysna Democratic Alliance caucus that it is therefore neither right nor reasonable that this Council pays such exorbitant salaries to its Municipal Manager and Directors.
The annual increase that the ‘scarce skills allowances’ will add to the salaries of Municipal Manager and Directors are currently as follows:

Position Remuneration Package/year Scarce Skills % Scarce Skills Allowance/ year Total remuneration / year
Municipal Manager increase R269,773.80  – Ammended Annual Salary R1,618,642.80
CFO increase R226,952.04 – Ammended Annual Salary R1,361,712.24
Director: Corporate Services increase R220,518.00 Ammended Annual Salary R1,323,108.00
Director: Technical Services increase R220,518.00 Ammended Annual Salary R1,323,108.00
Director: Planning & Development increase R226,952.04 Ammended Annual Salary R1,361,712.24
Director: Community Services increase R220,518.00 Ammended Annual Salary R1,323,108.00

The Motion to rescind the Scarce Skills Allowance will be submitted to the Knysna Municipal Council at its next Ordinary Council Meeting. Should the motion not be successful, the Democratic Alliance Knysna caucus will report the matter to the MEC for Local Government, the Auditor-General and the National Minister of COGTA for investigation.

The Knysna Ratepayers Association also challenged the decision to approve the municipal salary increases, though for different reasons. They have issued the following statement.
We have noted the Knysna DA’s press release of 2 August 2019 regarding their intention to rescind the Council decision to pay a 20% scarce skills allowance to Municipal Directors and the Municipal Manager.
It is no secret that the Knysna Ratepayers Association (“KRA”) does not support the decision by Council to pay the 20% scarce skills allowance. Council effectively increased the Municipal Manager’s and the Directors’ salaries by 20%, backdated to August 2018.
We are further of the view that the Municipal Manager’s report to Council, in which the scarce skills allowance was motivated, contained misleading information relating to the legality of backdating the allowance.
To enable us to make a decision on how to take the matter further, on 16 July 2019 we requested access to information relating to the contested Council decision, pursuant to section 18(1) of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 (the “PAIA Act”).
The content of our PAIA request is set out as follows.
1. A copy of the recording of the proceedings in respect of the following items on the Supplementary Agenda for the Special Council meeting of 11 June 2019:
6.5 Employment Contracts of Section 54a and 56 Managers and
6.6 Scarce Skills Allowance for Section 54a and 56 Managers.
2. Copies of the employment contracts of the Municipal Manager and all the Senior Managers, excluding the Director Housing, as well as any amendments and/or addendums to the contracts.
3. A copy of the KM scarce skills policy.
4. Copies of all correspondence between the Knysna Municipality and the Western Cape MEC for Local Government relating to the MM and Senior Managers.
5. Copies of all correspondence between the Knysna Municipality and the Minister of COGTA relating to the MM and Senior Managers.
6. The following information is required relating to any payments that may have been made to Directors and/or the MM in respect of the 20% allowance that was approved by Council on 11 June 2019.
• A breakdown of each payment to each Director and the MM.
• The date/s of each payment.
• The amount of each payment.
• Details of how each payment is calculated.
We have not yet received a response from Knysna Municipality to that request.
On 16 July 2019, we also submitted a separate request for the written reasons for the contested Council decision pursuant to section 5(1) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA).
In that request, we stated: “…it is also stipulated in section 5(3), that the decision you have made must be regarded as a decision with no good reasons if you fail to provide adequate written reasons for your decision. This is a reason for taking such a decision on … judicial review.”
We have not yet received a response from Knysna Municipality to that request.
We await responses to both our PAIA and our PAJA requests prior to taking further action.
The Committee