Shire’s draft budget is up for comment

A $35 INCREASE in the kerbside rubbish collection charge has been proposed as Wellington Shire Council looks to find a solution to its recycling issue.

Council’s draft 2018-19 budget includes an increase in the garbage charge from $187 to $222 per property, mostly because of China no longer accepting co-mingled recyclables.

The decision by China had left processors like Visy unable to export the recyclable material it collected, and these companies are seeking new contractual arrangements with councils.

Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley said the sudden change meant council would increase the garbage charge to cover the higher cost of recycling.

“The cost of disposing our waste overall is growing, and it is not acceptable to Wellington Shire or the community that our recycling ends up in landfill — this would set us back decades,” she said.

“We need to ensure our recyclables continue to be processed sustainably, and unfortunately that means a higher cost for the service.

“In real terms, this means that those properties that have a both a general rubbish and a recycling bin will see the annual cost of that fortnightly pick-up increase from $187 to $222.”

Latrobe City Council has proposed a $27 increase for its garbage charge, with $20 of that related to China’s ban.

The increasing cost of complying with Environmental Protection Authority requirements for landfills and transfer stations has led to the waste infrastructure charge rising from $50 to $55, while the associated EPA levy charge will increase to $16.92.

Council is proposing an average rate rise of 2.25 per cent next financial year, which is in line with the state government’s rate cap.

Council estimates it will raise $54.226 million in rates in 2018-19.

Councillor Malcolm Hole said council would retain the 20 per cent differential rate for farm land.

“When you consider around the state there are councils who are giving up their farm differential rate … we’re maintaining it at 20 per cent,” he said.

Most fees at the Gippsland Regional Livestock Exchange, of which council took over management on April 1, will remain the same. The exceptions are fee rises for sheep sales and truck washing.

The draft budget includes a $43.6 million capital works program, with $37.412 million in new capital works.

Among the projects listed are redevelopments of the stadium at the Cameron Sporting Complex in Maffra, Sale Memorial Hall and Briagolong Recreation Reserve pavilion, and the extension of the West Sale Airport runway.

Council has budgeted to spend $22 million on roads, residential streets, paths, parks, streetscapes and open spaces.

Council is looking at a surplus of $16.175 million for 2018-19. It has forecast a $10.736 million surplus for the current financial year.

The proposed increase in rates and charges took into account the current economic climate and effects on ratepayers, while recognising the need to provide an acceptable level of service to the community.

“I think this is a fair and responsible budget,” Cr Hole said.

“We invite people to make comment on the budget.

“The comments that come back from the community will determine what is adopted early in June.”

Submissions on the draft budget should be addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Wellington Shire Council, 18 Desailly St (PO box 506), Sale Victoria, 3850, and marked as ‘draft budget submission’.

Copies of the draft budget will be available for inspection on council’s website, at its Sale and Yarram service centres, and Sale, Maffra, Yarram, Rosedale, Stratford and Heyfield libraries.

Public submissions are due by 5pm on Wednesday, May 16.

Council will consider submissions for the draft budget during a special meeting on Tuesday, May 29, and will adopt the budget on June 5.