Council hopes past waste management plans help avoid future levy

Orange mayor John Davis says Orange City Council shouldn't be hit with a waste and environment levy because of its investment in waste management.

Orange mayor John Davis says Orange City Council shouldn't be hit with a waste and environment levy because of its investment in waste management.

ORANGE City Council hopes its investment in waste services will save ratepayers from coughing up an extra levy to the state government.

Until now, the NSW waste and environment levy has been charged only to Sydney metropolitan, coastal, Southern Highlands and Blue Mountains councils, but the NSW Environmental Protection Authority has begun consultation with the remaining councils in a bid to extend the program.

If an introductory levy of $10 a tonne was  to be implemented in Orange, households would pay an extra $8 a year. 

The amount would grow as the levy increased - modelling done by Orange City Council staff based on a $40-a-tonne levy would cost ratepayers $1.8 million a year for 45,000 tonnes sent to landfill.

Orange mayor John Davis said any increase would likely be opposed because the council had invested in the Orange Waste Project, including introducing the collection of food and garden organics, composting, and the construction of a waste baling facility and landfill. 

Councils already subjected to the levy average a 41.8 per cent recovery rate, but Orange City Council keeps 57 per cent of the waste it collects from landfill. 

"We have paid our way and it would be disappointing if we’re put in the position where we have to put more proceeds in"

“Orange City Council has been the leader in the region for the treatment of waste - we have paid our way and it would be disappointing if we’re put in the position where we have to put more proceeds in,” Cr Davis said.

Councillors will consider the proposal at a meeting tonight and council staff have recommended either no change, or an opt-in levy system where councils could choose to implement a waste levy at set or chosen rates.

The staff report said the levy could also lead to increases in illegal dumping to avoid paying the waste disposal charge at the tip.

“This can lead to significant environmental pollution events,” the report said.

“Some money may be returned to council in the form of competitive grants, such as the current Waste Less Recycle More program, however the majority of these funds are paid into the state government’s consolidated revenue fund.”

Sydney, Illawarra and Hunter councils are expected to pay $120.90 a tonne by next year, while the Blue Mountains will pay $78 by 2016-17.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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