Municipal services are services provided by the local government (municipality). These include sanitation, water and roads. Some municipalities may also provide electricity and food inspection services. In addition, they can build and manage schools and social housing. However, these services are not free and therefore require funding. Municipalities can generate income from grants, loans and user charges. They can also receive income from the profits of utilities that they own or contract out to third parties. The level of services that a municipality provides depends on the area in which it operates, its history, geography and statutes.
A municipality may decide to deliver a service directly through its own staff and facilities. It can also hire an external provider to deliver a municipal service, if it is cheaper or more effective than doing so itself. This is known as a service contract. The contract is typically a short-term agreement with specific timeframes, budgets and targets. The municipality can then monitor the service contractor to ensure that it is delivering the agreed service within these constraints.
The contracting authority can be another municipality, a public utility, a private company or a non-governmental organisation (NGO). It is important to note that a service provider must be an organisation registered in terms of the Companies Act and must have its own bank account. It must also have the necessary skills and experience to deliver the service required.
A municipal service review is an in-depth study of the adequacy and sustainability of a particular municipal service or set of services. It is usually undertaken as a precursor to a sphere of influence update. It can be used to identify opportunities for greater cooperation between local governments or to improve the efficiency of a service delivery mechanism.
Working for a municipality can be very rewarding. Employees see the impact of their work on the community every day, which motivates them to do their best. Additionally, employees have a defined benefit pension, which is often enough to sustain them throughout their retirement.
Lastly, employees of municipal departments are rarely laid off, so they have more job security than workers in the private sector. They also have the benefit of being able to move up the ranks if they are willing to put in the effort, which is a great incentive for people to take on such roles.
Municipalities can also attract more skilled employees by hiring from a wide range of backgrounds, including gender, race and socio-economic status. This allows for diverse opinions to be presented and gives everyone the opportunity to develop their professional capabilities. It can also help in attracting employees who are willing to sacrifice higher salaries, because they want to know that there is room for them at the top of their chosen career. This is especially important in the current labour market, where the number of job vacancies is significantly higher than the number of jobseekers. This has led to a shortage of skilled workers.