No weighbridge at landfill yet

The Green Island landfill. Photo by ODT.
The Green Island landfill. Photo by ODT.

Dunedin city councillors have voted against installing a weighbridge at the Green Island landfill immediately, opting instead to seek residents' opinion.

Councillors yesterday spent an hour debating whether to install a weighbridge at the landfill, where operator discretion was recently removed, leading to widespread complaints from users who felt prices had suddenly increased and were in some cases unfair.

The other option is to retain the present system, charging by item or vehicle, and review the charging structure to add more layers of fees.

The discussion began with general indications of support for a weighbridge, although Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull questioned whether it would actually address the perceived anomalies in the present system.

An assessment based on a sample audit showed it would not change how much people had to pay anyway, he said.

Information provided to councillors showed 14 of 21 cars weighed depositing rubbish during a sample audit would have paid less over a weighbridge, and seven would have paid more than the present charge of $18 a car load.

But it also showed that of 20 station wagons weighed, half would have paid less than the present charge and half more.

Twenty-one of the 39 vans, utilities or trailers weighed would have paid less, and 18 would have paid more.

The sample appeared to show the idea people were overcharged was to some extent perception only, and the same number of people would be better off as would be worse off, he said.

''We may spend $150,000 to correct people's perception.''

Council water and waste manager Laura McElhone agreed it could be viewed that way and acknowledged another group of landfill users - those charged more then present prices - could be aggrieved if a weighbridge was installed.

However, the advantages of a weighbridge - a more direct user-pays system that made the council's revenue collection more reliable - were clear, she said.

After more questions, Cr David Benson-Pope moved the weighbridge be installed before July.

Weighbridges were a much more rational and more easily understood system than the present one, which did not seem to work because when it was applied properly, people went ''awol'' about it, he said.

''I think [a weighbridge] will be widely welcomed. That's certainly the feedback I've been getting.''

Crs Chris Staynes and John Bezett said people were not going to argue with a weighbridge the way they argued with an operator.

Cr Neville Peat agreed, but Crs Jinty MacTavish and Aaron Hawkins said they would rather see people consulted about it first through the draft 2014-15 annual plan.

Cr Richard Thomson said he could not support a weighbridge when there could be a cheaper solution, such as adding more layers of fees for items and vehicles and more training for operators, that would not require spending $150,000.

''I just don't think it is 100% necessary. My preference is for an enhanced status quo.''

Mr Cull said he supported a weighbridge not on the basis that it would make charging fairer, but that it would provide more transparency in council budgets and would potentially encourage people to dispose of less waste because they were charged by weight.

Cr Benson-Pope's original motion failed six to five, and a secondary motion, to consult the community on a weighbridge and a proposed new fee structure, through the draft annual plan, was passed with a supplementary request to staff to report on ways to better educate and support people to minimise waste.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

Most likely result

Most likely the end result will be the more rubbish you have, the more rubbish you will dump on the side of the road somewhere.

Why put in a new weighbridge when there is already one there? Or am I the only who remember having to stop on the weighbridge - even in your car - way back in the late 70s and 80s?

Weighbridge? Bring it on

As a regular user Fibula (below) has it spot on.  It will help drive waste minimization too, as the more one puts out the more one pays.  It is the fair method of charging.  The old eyeometer, combined with the ridged charging rules, last I looked was not that accurate or fair, and that is what is ticking people off.   

The 'green way' of doing things

That's the 'green way' of doing things Roadwarrior, and exactly why the Greens aren't wanted in parliament.

DCC dump

There already is a weighbridge at the Green island dump. I used it yesterday! All tandem trailers are required to use it. Maybe our DCC elected and unelected officials should go and have a look.

Take your pick

Perhaps Benson-Pope meant 'NATO', or 'postal', or maybe even 'bananas'......

Anyway, I couldn't agree with him more, just put the thing in would you! It's fair and transparant, I've used them before in other cities and it has always amazed me that we didn't have one, hang on, we do - but for commercial use only apparently - what's up with that?

In Invercargill everyone uses the same one whether you are driving a 20 tonne truck or a wheelbarrow. Not having been to the Dunedin tip for years I can't remember the layout, but would it just be easier to change the entry/exit to make use of the one that's already there if it's suitable for lower weights also?

Counciller MacTavish and Hawkins' attitude are exactly what's wrong with this city and why simple things can take years to get done. Too much consultation, not enough action.

If council had made the right decision in the first instance

And gave us wheelie bins instead of plastic bags, they wouldn't be having this problem now. What's usually the cheap option initially is most often the expensive option in the long run.

Do they really not know what the problem is?

sigh...  You now have clear evidence that about half of the people using the tip are being under-charged and about half are being over-charged.  That is why you need a weighbridge.  That is not a reason not to get a weigh bridge.  If everyone ended up paying less with the installation of the weigh bridge then you would not get the same income as you do now and you would have to increase prices to cover costs.

The reason to get the weigh bridge is so that a car with 1 bag of rubbish in it is not charged the same as a car with 32 bags of rubbish squeezed into it.  The 1 bag car should pay less and the 32 bag car should pay more!  At present they pay the same .  This is not a "perception problem" Dave.  This is an actual problem for the guy with 2 small items on a trailer paying exactly the same amount as the guy behind him with a caged trailer with 1.2 tonnes of rubbish on it.  I really can't believe that this needs to get explained to educated adults.   

[Abridged] 

Acronomious debate

I think Cr Benson-Pope has his wires crossed.

AWOL is Absent Without Leave.

Does he think that, when confronted with charges for their rubbish, that people suddenly abscond from their jobs and partners?

I'm actually struggling to think what the Cr is confusing "awol" with...

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