Councillors found themselves deadlocked when trying to deal with the report from the group. An attempt by councillors Paul Belcher and Martyn Evans to remove a number of fees failed due to a lack of majority support. Mayor Ben Shaw and deputy mayor Jessica Cosgrove supported the plan to remove tipping fees for green waste, scrap metal, e-waste and whitegoods, but it was opposed by councillors Luke Browning, Rachel Power, Anne Salt and Julie Triffett, This produced a tied vote, which the Local Government Act treats as a loss.
Similarly, an attempt by councillors Browning and Power to defer the matter to a workshop for further discussion behind closed doors was defeated along the same voting lines. As a result, no decision was made on the Waste Working Group's report.
Infrastructure and Development Services manager Richard Blackwell said in a written report that the October 2018 council meeting had requested that a working group be established to review the Peppermint Hill waste charges and tip voucher pricing. Councillors at that meeting voted unanimously in favour of Cr Anne Salt's proposal to establish a such a working group, comprised of council officers, the operators of the Peppermint Hill tip site, and and up to four members of the community.
"With changes to the value of tip vouchers and the increase in the waste management charge in the current budget, much anger and concern has been expressed by some in the Derwent Valley community," Cr Salt said at the October meeting.
HIKE IN WASTE LEVY PROTESTED
TIP FEES AGAIN DOMINATE MEETING
Two months on, the working group had been formed, completed its task, and reported back, without its membership being confirmed by the council. "Following council’s request, a community working group was formed to review the waste, pricing and make recommendations," Mr Blackwell said in his report to the December meeting. "The group included community members from rural and urban areas, inside and outside the kerbside collection area; with diverse backgrounds of being employed, retired, business owner, and council committee member. In addition, the waste working group received a presentation from the Peppermint Hill contractors in regards to their operations."
Mr Blackwell said the working group, "after reviewing all the information and discussing the matter with the Peppermint Hill waste contractors", had recommended for the remainder of the financial year:
- No changes be made to the existing waste fees;
- No changes be made to the tip ticket system;
- Council should establish a communication plan and action schedule including: An immediate statement or bulletin be distributed including the reason for the fees and confirmation of the current fee structure. The working group recommend that this statement be issued as soon as practicable and preferably prior to Christmas 2018; The communication plan should include simple guidelines (preferably pictorial) illustrating trailer load sizes and types and their respective ticket value and include a list of exclusions from the ticket system; Plan for future waste and fee strategies to better educate the public of the current charges and fees. Ensure this plan is made available to all members of the community;
- Develop a Waste Management Strategy for the Derwent Valley and ensure community engagement through that process;
- Undertake an education campaign in regards to the recyclables; and
- Continue to investigate opportunities in the improvement of maximising recycling service in partnership with the Peppermint Hill contractor.
Mr Blackwell's report did not name the members of the working group nor provide any details of the number of meetings held, nor copies of the minutes of the meetings. "The working group acknowledged that the operational costs of the Peppermint Hill waste site were greater than the received revenue, and as such, any reduction to the current fees and charges would result in budget shortfall," he said.
"The Peppermint Hill Refuse site fees are significantly lower than that of neighbouring metropolitan waste sites. Whilst there was an acceptance that waste management is a service with a cost, the working group believed that the public required further education to advise of all relevant information before any future charges are in effect," Mr Blackwell said.
"A consensus from the working group was reached requiring effective communication when implementing changes to the fee structure and the importance (and statutory compliance requirement) of community consultation. The working group acknowledged and thanked council for the opportunity to review the Peppermint Hill waste charges and tip voucher pricing and to provide its recommendations."