THE State Government’s $12 million bailout for councils won’t cover all of the increased recycling fees – leaving the Bass Coast Shire Council with an estimated bill of up to $80,000.
For the local council, the bailout grant will only cover between 55 to 60 per cent of the increased recyclables cost.
It leaves the Bass Coast Shire Council with an estimated shortfall of between $70,000 and $80,000 to cover the cost from March 1 to June 30 – something that wasn’t budgeted for.
Shadow Minister for Environment Nick Wakeling met with Bass MP Brian Paynter and Wonthaggi Recyclers’ managing director Adam Hill last week to discuss the concerns around the recycling industry.
Bass MP Brian Paynter said the grants are based on councils increasing their rates come July 1 and putting the cost on ratepayers.
Mr Wakeling agreed, adding the State Government was elected on a promise to put downward pressure on rates – through a rate cap – and now they’re telling councils to up them.
In the Bass Coast Shire, it’s predicted the recycling fee increase will cost around $530,000 annually – or $20 per household.
It’s likely the council will bump that $20 onto the garbage levy included in rates notices. The garbage levy is however charged separately to rates and is not subject to the 2.25 per cent rate cap next fiscal year.
“If there’s an increase on the garbage charge, it’ll be separate to the normal rate increase,” Mr Wakeling said.
“So it’s not a $20 increase on your rates, it’s $20 just for this, not to mention everything else.”
Mr Paynter said the bailout grants are a “band-aid at best”.
He said that band-aid is coming off and a longer term solution – preferably a Victorian facility to create new materials from recyclables – is needed.
China has the monopoly in the recycling industry and so when they decided to only accept cleaner recyclables, it increased the cost for sorters in Australia – eventually passing the cost onto councils.
Mr Paynter said Australia needed to reduce its reliance on China for reusing recyclables.
“We’re seeing what’s happening with our energy resources with the closing of coal mines,” Mr Paynter said.
“We need to look at alternatives and we don’t seem to be talking enough about this or investing in the industry.
“There are opportunities in the industry even to create energy.”
Mr Paynter the State Government should be using the $550 million in the Sustainability Fund, which collects money from landfill levies and tip fees.
In response to questions about how the council will make up for the shortfall from the State Government, Bass Coast Shire Council’s manager of sustainable environment Deirdre Griepsma said they’ll have to find the money within the 2017-18 budget.
She said the increased cost to recyclables “could” be considered within the garbage charge next fiscal year.
“Council welcomes the State Government Recycling Services Temporary Relief Funding arrangement and understands this will be capped at approximately $55-$60 per tonne,” she said.
“Council has submitted an EOI for this funding which is based on predicated tonnes of kerbside recycling material collected for processing.
“This funding assistance is available to affected councils for costs incurred from March 1 to June 30 this year due to the recycling processing industry changes.
“Council is having to reforecast, and find the remaining shortfall, within the current 2017/18 Budget.
“Council is considering the increased cost beyond June 30 within its draft 2018/19 Budget preparations. The increase in cost could be considered as part of the garbage charge.”