Dunedin city councillors have backed off from a plan to
install a second weighbridge - costing more than $100,000 -
at the Green Island landfill, but have also balked at a
proposal to raise fees by more than originally suggested.
The decisions came after council staff presented updated
information about the financial implications of four options
for the landfill to yesterday's 2014-15 annual plan
The figures showed the council faced a shortfall in its solid
waste budget of between $55,000 and $353,000 in the coming
The exact amount would depend upon whether the weighbridge
was installed or not, and whether the fees proposed for
2014-15 earlier this year were increased again or not.
Councillors eventually voted narrowly in favour of sticking
with the fees consulted on earlier this year, deferring the
weighbridge and using the capital saved to offset the
That still left council staff with a $113,000 hole to plug in
the solid waste budget, but councillors asked them to examine
ways of reducing costs at the landfill and report later in
The decisions came after councillors voted earlier this year
to consult the public on adding a second weighbridge at the
landfill, after an outcry over the end of discretionary
charges for landfill users.
The proposal, together with landfill charges for the coming
financial year, were released for public consultation.
However, council staff later revealed a $467,000 shortfall,
confirmed after a three-day trial weighing all rubbish loads
entering the landfill provided more accurate data.
The data confirmed 63% of all landfill customers would be
better off if a second weighbridge was added, but also the
expected shortfall, a report by council solid waste manager
Ian Featherston said. As a result, he suggested the
charges per tonne should rise by more than that advertised
earlier this year.
That would see the general waste charge rise from the $130 a
tonne proposed, to $145 a tonne; for green waste, from $80 a
tonne to $100 a tonne; and for mixed loads, from $110 a tonne
to $115 a tonne, his report said.
Some councillors expressed nervousness at the idea on
Thursday, and more concerns were raised about the new
An updated report presented by Mr Featherston yesterday said
the shortfall was caused in part by declining commercial
revenue and waste streams, in part because of the loss of one
Options to rectify the situation included retaining fees as
proposed, and absorbing the loss, or increasing fees to
reduce the loss.
Alternatively, the council could hold fees at proposed
levels, and increase rates by 0.25% to cover the shortfall,
or seek to attract general and mixed waste from elsewhere to
the landfill, he said.
The latter was of interest to Cr Andrew Noone, who wondered
whether more customers could be pursued, but prompted a
warning about environmental consequences from Cr Jinty
Most other councillors favoured the ''middle ground''
suggested by deputy mayor Chris Staynes, who said he would
happily consider a second weighbridge once the landfill's
shortfall was under control.
Using the money set aside for the weighbridge to offset the
shortfall would help bridge the gap, and he remained
confident additional savings within landfill operating costs
could also be found.
''We can't afford to have the size of negative cashflow that
has been indicated,'' he said.
However, Cr Andrew Noone said the resolutions did nothing for
those worried the end of discretionary charges was unfair,
which was what had prompted the initial debate.
''I think we need to convey the message to our customers it
will be considered as soon as we can can afford to implement
that. I think we mustn't lose sight of that.
''A lot of people out there are dissatisfied and will
continue to be dissatisfied until we have a weighbridge
Cr Mike Lord was among other councillors to voice concern,
saying a second weighbridge would be a fairer approach and
would encourage waste minimisation.
However, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said problems at the
landfill in part stemmed from ''almost a sense of
entitlement'' that rubbish should not cost much to dump.
That overlooked the fact landfills were ''very, very
expensive'' and a weighbridge would not address that, he
''It costs a lot of money to get rid of waste. The ultimate
solution for everyone is to reduce it to as little as