A new board of directors for Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) was elected on Monday evening at the 21st Annual General Meeting, following the resignation of the previous board.
According to outgoing chair, Roger Smith, the board made a unanimous decision to resign after it was served by the Overstrand Municipality with a final notice of termination of the Central Improvement District (CID) agreement between the municipality and HPP.
HPP announced in January of this year that it will begin with a winding-down process after it was informed by Coenie Groenewald, municipal manager, in December last year that the municipality can no longer impose the additional rates for HPP for the 2019/2020 municipal financial year, commencing on 1 July 2019. This has come about as a result of changes that have been made to the Property Rates Act, the Special Rating Area By-law and the Special Rating Area Policy. The levy that residents were paying was stopped on 30 June.
“As a board we feel that we were elected to run HPP on behalf of the residents and not to oversee its winding down in its current form. The time has come for new ways of thinking and new ideas as to how HPP can operate. These challenges will be up to the new board,” said Smith.
“At the December 2018 meeting we were informed that the CID levy providing the income for HPP will cease at the end of June 2019 and were advised that the establishment of a Special Ratings Area (SRA) by the Hermanus ratepayers will be the only viable option for a levy to continue,” he said.
Subsequently in January 2019 the HPP board informed ratepayers that the levy was to be discontinued and that HPP would commence a winding down process allowing for the continuation of normal operations until January 2020 when the reserve funds would be depleted and HPP dissolved. “The primary reason for the early communication was to encourage the community to start with the process of registering an SRA soonest, as it is a lengthy process,” he said.
According to Smith, in March 2019 HPP was included by the Hermanus Ratepayers Association (HRA) in an initiative that would allow for the transition of the Hermanus CID to an SRA in line with a process that was followed in Cape Town. The municipality agreed to refer the request for a legal opinion but at a meeting held on 25 March the mayor said that any process that will bypass full public participation and disclosure will not be agreed to by the municipality.
On 5 April Groenewald issued a document outlining the process that will need to be followed when the HPP Board finally dissolves HPP. This includes the formation of a joint working committee with the municipality, as they have an oversight responsibility, and outlines the process regarding the remaining assets when HPP is finally dissolved.
“It is indeed unfortunate that at the time of writing this report, very little progress had been made to establish an SRA, which remains the only viable long-term funding solution for HPP or a similar organisation,” said Smith. He added that he was, however, pleased to report that HPP continued to make a valuable contribution towards public safety within the CID, which stretches from Voëlklip to Swartdam Road.
“Although the news of the CID termination came as a shock, we decided to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach. I am pleased to report that a clean sheet was achieved regarding safety on the Cliff Path with no serious incidents reported during the period. The CCTV surveillance system operated optimally, with minimal downtime.”
Smith said the HPP mandate of supporting and facilitating ‘Public Safety in Public Places’ within the boundaries of the CID remained unchanged, with the core activities being security patrols, CCTV surveillance and litter control.
He said the HPP CCTV surveillance system, which is a joint venture with the municipality, is now in its third year of service and continues to grow in importance. The three camera positions in the industrial area have been extremely valuable in identifying suspicious activities.
“HPP is in a very sound financial position, with fixed assets mainly unchanged at R1 133 203.”
Brian Wridgway, chair of the HRA, thanked the outgoing board as well as general manager, Hennie Niemand as well as secretary Christine Hibberd, for their hard work. The outgoing board consists of chairman Roger Smith, deputy chair, Callie Westraat, Coenie Bierman and Michael Clark.