Service Delivery Protests Force Municipalities to Rethink Billing

By: SmartMetro  10-14-2011
Keywords: Revenue management, Municipality Revenue Enhancement

The wave of protests that have rocked communities across South Africa in recent months has highlighted the need for municipalities to improve their service delivery. The protests have turned violent in several towns with a study by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) cautioning that the level of violence is increasing. These demonstrations and protests need to be viewed by municipalities as a major concern in light of recent events in North Africa, in which protests lead to widespread turmoil because of those countries' leaders not listening to the demands of their people. The problem for municipalities is bridging the gap between revenue and expenses. Tight budgets have left many municipalities in a position that makes it impossible for them to adequately provide the desired level of service delivery to their consumers. This is forcing them to look at alternative revenue enhancement mechanisms to generate income. Municipalities are starting to recognise that the solution to poor service delivery is enhancing revenue through improving data integrity and analytics. One of the primary functions of a municipality is to provide efficient service delivery, and to successfully implement their right to bill for services delivered. The financial integrity and sustainability of municipalities is an integral part of their role in the community and requires effective management of client databases. Data integrity is a big ask for municipalities and as a result of inconsistencies, they often find it difficult to deliver on the services promised and find it a challenge to maintain financial sustainability. Municipalities can solve their revenue deficit by increasing rates and service costs to consumers in their jurisdiction, but this can cause a backlash from consumers. With many communities already unhappy with the amount of rates paid for the services received. The correction of unbilled and under billed rates and services can be solved with data analytics identifying and correcting billing inconsistencies and finding revenue which the municipality is entitled to. This is a solution from which neither the municipality nor the consumer would be made worse off. National government has implemented preventions with Operation Clean Audit and GRAP compliance for Annual Financial Statements to counter quick fix tariff increases. This requires municipalities to present their financial data in a detailed and accountable manner in order to enhance service delivery. By 2014 all municipalities will be required to have clean audits on their annual financial statements. In order to achieve this, municipalities need clean data for compliance and revenue enhancement - both of which can be easily, methodically and economically solved with the Smart Metro system. All the data needed to run a financially successful municipality is readily available in the various departments. The Smart Metro process checks with up to 13 metro databases such as the valuation department, GIS, zoning, and consumer supply agreements. This information is then cross-referenced with 10 or more external databases such as the Surveyor General, Google Earth, the Deeds Office, and the Voter’s roll - to ensure that all data and billing are accurate. According to Smart Metro chairman Nicholas Mace, who has more than 30 years experience with public utility analytics and savings, "What municipalities need is a way to organise and consolidate all this information into one clear and up to date database – and then to run a systematic data analysis process to identify billing gaps they can act on to enhance revenue and improve service delivery." Smart Metro is a proven methodology developed over 30 years experience with public entities that applies data analytics to completely transform and improve record keeping and financial performance of municipalities.

Keywords: Municipality Revenue Enhancement, Revenue management,

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