Councils in catch 22 over waste

COFFS Harbour City Councillor Rodney Degens wants to claw back some of the $4.6 million in waste processing costs imposed on Coffs Harbour by new State Government regulations.

And he wants other local councils to do the same.

At Thursday’s Coffs Harbour City Council meeting, Cr Degens will ask his fellow councillors for support for two motions to this effect, to be taken to the Local Government Association conference later this year.

Cr Degens says councils like Coffs Harbour should not have to pay the waste levy of $31.10 a tonne for clean dirt trucked to the tip to be used for the daily coverage of garbage at the landfill site, which is required under the terms of the council’s licence.

He says nor should it have to pay for putting previously usable mixed waste organic material into landfill, since the council was forced into this step by new and more stringent requirements for the output of waste processing equipment.

These changes also require modifications to equipment which will again cost councils and their ratepayers more money.

Cr Degens says this financial year the council will get a bill for $800,000 for using clean dirt to cover landfill and has had to pay $200,000 to bury its mixed waste organic material in landfill.

He said the council would also incur a bill for about $3.6 million to modify the Biomass waste processing facility to meet new the new requirements and would also face increased operating costs.

“These are unnecessary financial burdens, placed on to both the council of Coffs Harbour (and therefore ratepayers) as well as many other councils operating landfills around the State,” Cr Degens said.

“Expenses that are highly questionable and inequitable given that certain other landfill operations around the state of NSW do not suffer the same financial burdens that we do here in Coffs Harbour.

“The tax on plain dirt needs to be removed.

“Ratepayers are paying tax on plain soil or dirt brought into the tip as a result of changes to NSW Government legislation. This dirt brought into the landfill (tip) is taking the place of specialised tarps/covers purchased by Council to cover household smelly rubbish after a days dumping, to reduce odour.

“Previously, a combination of the tarps and dirt were used, however now soil must be purchased and for the case of Coffs Harbour is taxed on entry to the tip at around $30 per tonne. This soil is defined as waste.

“Many other tips operating around the state still use tarps/covers and a range of other cheaper alternatives such as composted material.

“The dumping of organic product and purchase of new machinery involves a new state regulation, so the state should pay.

“The Biomass Solutions facility processes waste material and recovers the organic material and then turns it into a compost product similar to that available in nurseries.

“This organic material recovered by the waste facility, is no longer able to be used by the facility and is now being dumped, incurring costs to do so – costs that are passed on to the council.

“Added to this are State Government regulations that have forced the facility to purchase new waste refining machinery.

“These are new regulations brought into being after the initial contracts and conditions were already established between the council and the waste facility operator. All of this adds up to hefty bills and it is the ratepayer who ultimately pays.”

Cr Degens said both his motions were intended for inclusion on the agenda of the state conference for local government as representations to be made to the State Government if they were passed by the Coffs Harbour council.

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