Waste the hot topic at Val­ley fo­rum

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - DAMIAN BESTER

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.

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