Waste the hot topic at Valley forum
WASTE management again dominated the open forum before 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 tip fees are being banked, and how much life is left in the waste disposal site.
The main speaker was Darren Graham, who expressed dissatisfaction with a letter he 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.
“No monies have been put aside from Brighton as additional operating costs ... negated additional revenue received,” he wrote.
It had previously been stated that the Brighton income would go towards the cost of rehabilitating the tip when it closed 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 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 defer closure and rehabilitation costs.
Mr Winton said 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.
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?” she asked.
Cr Evans said recent hirings at the council had mostly been to fill longstanding vacancies.