Good news for Joburg: crime down, rating up

January 30, 2016, 7:00am

A view of the Johannesburg skyline. Picture: THE TIMES on BDLive

By Penelope Mashego, Business Day Live

A MARKED decrease in crime, as well as a better credit rating, are among the City of Johannesburg’s major improvements in the 2014-15 financial year.

The city also says a twofold increase in revenue collection is evidence that the billing crisis has been solved.

Presenting the City’s annual report on Thursday, member of the City’s mayoral committee Geoffrey Makhubo said despite weakness in the South African economy, the City had achieved a surplus of R3.9bn, slightly up from the previous year’s R3.8bn.

The City also increased its capital spending from R7.3bn in 2013-14 to R10.1bn in 2014-15, and its cash equivalents amounted to R4.9bn, despite capital expenditure increasing 38%.

Speaking at the same event, City manager Trevor Fowler said incidents of crime had fallen 22%, largely due to an "intelligent system" through which the South African Police Service and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department used software to keep track of people and vehicles.

The City’s credit rating improved from AA-to AA on outstanding bonds in 2014-15. Mr Makhubo said billing had improved from about R19bn to R42bn, indicating that "we’ve largely dealt with the issues of billing".

"Correct bills are going out to the correct addresses. Now we’re measuring ourselves, we’re probably sitting at a 1.6% error rate, down from 6% or 5% that we had in the previous year," he said.

However, Democratic Alliance councillor Vasco da Gama insisted that the billing issues had not ended, saying the city was using "basic extortion" by overbilling residents who missed payments.