By Tonderai Saharo
Negotiations between Bikita rural district council and ratepayers has resulted in the two parties settling for a 30 percent downward review, despite the local authority maintaining last year’s rates.
BRDC CEO Peter Chibhi said the settlement was reached after all stakeholders noted the economic effects induced by the Covid-19 pandemic in the district’s financial flows.
The reduction means rates will now be pegged at a minimum charge of $32 per month.
He admitted that settlement has forced the local authority to scale down on operations only focusing on essential services, such as refuse collection at Nyika growth point and rehabilitation of the district’s major roads.
“Tariffs reviewed downwards by 30% following the engagement with stakeholders.
“Covid-19 induced lockdown negatively affected businesses operating in Bikita just like what is happening globally. However, we are giving attention to key service delivery areas like refuse collection and roads rehabilitation,” Chibhi said.
He said the 30 percent downward review has not done much in helping the local authority’s revenue inflows as they are collecting between 30 to 45 percent of monthly targets.
“Just like any global business. We are hard hit by low revenue inflows negatively impacting of budget utilisation.
“Service delivery is our priority, but we adjusted all operations,” Chibhi said.
Bikita district mainly relies on Bikita Minerals and Save Valley Conservancy as its major cash cows while rates collected as shop licences and leases from small enterprises contribute to the local authority’s financials.