Curran: Why should Gympie pay for state's waste mess?
WHY are Gympie's ratepayers footing the bill to clean up a mess made in the state's southeast?
This is the question Mayor Mick Curran is asking amid growing fear the State Government's proposed waste levy will hit the household budget despite ministers' claims.
The Local Government Association of Queensland and the Waste Recycling Industry Association are among those who have told the State in submissions that residents will be slugged if a levy is introduced without changes being made.
"These operational costs will have direct impacts on ratepayers and will be passed on as an unavoidable direct cost to households from this State Government-imposed tax,” the LGAQ said in its submission.
It is an idea which rankled Cr Curran.
"Why should regional Queenslanders, with Gympie residents included, bear the cost of waste disposal issues that were identified in southeast Queensland?” he said.
"Personally, and I dare say the majority of my fellow councillors would be strongly opposed to any increased charges being passed onto our ratepayers as a result of the proposed levy.”
It is a concern shared by at least one other council, with Brisbane City promising to send a bill to the State Government for any additional costs beyond what is expected.
Cr Curran said the levy would also undo the council's efforts to reduce rubbish costs for most ratepayers.
This included the eradication of their $85 waste levy, and the $90 and $230 yearly fees paid by the region's eastern and western residents who cannot be serviced by kerbside pick-up. And while gate fees had been controversial, they had also had an impact. "We have seen this has in fact equalised charges and made the cost more equitable for residents across the region,” he said.
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said this week affected council's would have to absorb the costs or pass them on in rates. This was despite the State's promise to cover a significant part of the costs.
However, Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said households should not be affected.
"The only way this will cost households more is if councils don't use the advanced payment as it is intended,” she said.
"Ratepayers will be expecting their local councils to have the integrity to do the right thing.
"In this year's Budget we allocated $32 million for advance payments to councils, which will cover 105 per cent of the cost of their municipal waste.”