The Green Island landfill site where users will pay
increased charges from March. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Dunedin city councillors have agreed to increase landfill
user charges in March without public consultation, in order to
recover about $80,000 in costs all ratepayers would otherwise
have to carry.
Council staff sought approval from councillors at the
pre-draft annual plan meeting yesterday to increase landfill
user charges in March and again in July, that time through
the annual plan process.
The request followed a review that found the cost of
disposing of waste from the city's landfills was about
$195,000 a year more than was recovered in user charges.
The proposal from staff was to increase fees by about 20% in
total to cover the costs, and replace charging by the bag
with charging by the vehicle.
Councillors generally agreed fees needed to be increased to
meet the cost of running the landfill, but found it difficult
to agree on whether the increase should be staged; to start
in March as recommended by staff, which would mean
effectively going ahead without consulting the public, and
then increase again in July, or increase them once in July as
part of the 2013-14 annual plan and carry a $195,000 loss
this financial year.
Cr Andrew Noone proposed that only one increase be made, in
July, and the council accept it was behind in terms of
revenue, because the community should be given an chance
through the annual plan process to respond to the suggested
Also, every time the council considered increasing these
charges there was a negative impact and leaving the increase
to July would give staff time to deal with the potential of
people taking to illegal dumping to avoid paying the
Cr Colin Weatherall agreed, but deputy mayor Chris Staynes
supported a March increase, because it would at least mean
some costs were being recovered, reducing, if only for three
months, the effective council subsidy of landfill use
Cr John Bezett said the council should be explaining the
changes in the draft annual plan and giving people a chance
to understand before increasing fees, but Cr Teresa Stevenson
moved councillors ''bit the bullet'' and vote for the March
Cr Richard Thompson said he would support that if it excluded
the proposed replacement of per-bag charges with per-vehicle
In making a partial fee increase in March, Cr Staynes said,
the council was at least correcting the problem partially and
would be better off for it.
It that was not done, the revenue lost between March and July
alone would have a flow on effect for the 2013-14 budget.
Cr Jinty MacTavish said it would be lax of councillors not to
take the opportunity to do something about it when staff had
identified a way to recover costs at an earlier stage.
Councillors voted to increase the fee from March and include
in the draft 2013-14 annual plan a proposal to increase the
fees further in July and wipe individual bag charges, in
favour of being charged by vehicle size.
In other changes to fees and charges, changes to trade waste
fees, swimming pool entry fees and metered water charges were
approved for inclusion in the draft 2013-14 annual plan.
Water and waste services manager Dr Laura McElhone said the
trade waste changes reflected the relative changes in the
cost of treating waste flow and load due to the imminent
completion of the Tahuna treatment plant and the gas to
energy project at the Green Island treatment plant.
Swimming fee changes are proposed to make them more
consistent, and increase metered water fees to reflect
inflation and capital costs, rather than depreciation. The
latter should result in a general charge increase of about
5.26% to the council's metered water clients.