Saturday, October 6, 2018

Tip fees again dominate public forum

Some of the people at the public forum at Granton.
THE issue of waste management once again dominated the open forum prior to the latest Derwent Valley Council meeting.

Held at the Granton Memorial Hall on September 20, the forum drew perhaps the largest crowd for a council meeting at that venue, with much interest in the cost of using the New Norfolk tip, where the money is being banked, and how much life is left in the waste disposal site.

The main speaker was Darren Graham, who expressed great dissatisfaction with a letter he had received from council general manager Greg Winton following the previous meeting. "At the council meeting held on 16 August 2018 during public question time you enquired if the money from the tip vouchers and Brighton Council have been put aside and how much is in the account," Mr Winton wrote to Mr Graham.

Mr Winton advised that the money collected via the "tip vouchers" waste levy amounted to $561,095 as at June 30. He went on to say: "No monies have been put aside from Brighton as additional operating costs incurred in most negated additional revenue received." Mr Graham was mildly apoplectic at this news. It had previously been stated that the Brighton income would go towards the cost of rehabilitating the tip when it closes, and establishing a waste transfer station. Mr Graham urged the council to immediately terminate the agreement with Brighton.

Former councillor and 2018 mayoral candidate Chris Lester followed-up with a question about the life left in the tip site, following statements by some councillors that a 10-year extension had been approved. Mr Winton said there was a proposal to seek approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the size of the Peppermint Hill site. "All indications are that they are supportive of it [but] we don't haven't got the permit for it at the moment," Mr Winton said. "If that's the case that changes the life of the tip and extends the life of the tip out for a further period of time." Mr Winton said the present lifespan of the tip ended around 2025 and if extended it would go until 2032.

Mr Lester then asked what would happen to the council's $85 waste management levy should the lifespan of the tip be extended and thus defer the closure and rehabilitation costs. Mr Winton said that by the end of this financial year the council would have collected about $1 million which was about half of what was required for the rehabilitation and transfer station. He was unable to predict what decisions would be made after the election but said the council could make a decision next year to change the value of the levy, or to use some of the levy proceeds for an alternative purpose such as waste minimisation.

In response to a further question from Mr Lester, Mr Winton said detailed design work had not yet been done on the task of closing the tip, but a report in 2015 estimated the cost to be around $2 million. "My knowledge of what's happened elsewhere, where councils have had to shut down their landfill sites etc [suggest] those numbers are about right," he said.

A member of the Derwent Valley Tidy Towns committee asked for the council's position on container deposit legislation, leading to a lengthy conversation on that topic. "I get totally sick of picking up bottles and containers and that sort of thing," he said. "South Australia has got [a container deposit scheme] and it's very effective there, I believe it's working in New South Wales as well, and the Northern Territory, why can't Tasmania get it? This could also take some of the load off the tip."
Mayor Martyn Evans said he remembered Coke bottles being worth 20c when he was a child and he was supportive of container deposit schemes, as was the Local Government Association of Tasmania which was lobbying the State Government.

Following her theme from recent council meetings, Di Cowburn asked why the council's staffing levels had increased when the municipal population had remained reasonably static. "Why do we have such a huge management team with little capacity to afford it, and who have a background in far larger communities and who do not understand the idiosyncratic nature of our municipal demographic?" Mayor Evans said the recent hirings at the council had mostly been to fill longstanding vacancies.

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