State of City Finances 2013

Towards sustainable municipal finances

The South African Cities Network (SACN) has for some time been involved in investigating, assessing and tracking how its members are doing financially. This publication is a continuation of this body of work. It performs an analysis of the annual financial statements of the SACN members cities. Importantly, however, it goes further, probing a number of key thematic areas that have important implications for city finances. Under the broad umbrella of sustainable municipal finances, these themes touch on matters as varied as city tariffs and their affordability to households, housing accreditation, how well city assets are maintained and even the potential effect of the green agenda on city finances. The report makes the links and connections that city finances have to these important developmental issues.

The overall theme of the State of City Finances 2012 is sustainable finance for South African cities. The idea of ‘sustainable development’ has its origins in environmental policy and law, popularised by the Brudtland Report (WCED 1987). Simply put, sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs and has three dimensions: social, economic and environmental. The reference to future generations highlights the appeal to intergenerational equity.