HEPBURN Shire Council’s draft budget would slug residents with a real rate increase of between seven and eight per cent due to skyrocketing waste collection charges, a ratepayer group says.
Under the draft 2012-13 budget approved at its April ordinary meeting, the council has proposed a 4.5 per cent rate increase to raise its total rate revenue to $13.3 million.
In addition, the council will recover an 18 per cent increase in costs for garbage, recycling and waste management services, caused by the federal carbon tax and the state government’s Environment Protection Authority levy. While council rates are calculated separately to the waste levy, ratepayers receive both these charges on the same bill.
Hepburn Shire Concerned Residents and Landowners Association founder Zachary Casper calculates the total increase to be between seven to eight per cent when the new waste collection costs are factored in.
“That’s not going to make the community happy,” he said.
“I can understand costs have risen in waste management because of the carbon tax coming in July. I’d still like to see that figure lowered.”
Mr Casper said there were some areas in the budget that could be “drastically reduced” and called on the council to act responsibly when it came to spending ratepayers’ hard-earned cash.
“I would also like to see the overall debt the council owes being paid off more quickly,” Mr Casper said.
“The councillors have to realise we are scheduled to have local government elections in October. Their jobs may be on the line if people are unhappy with the seven or eight per cent rise.”
Hepburn Shire Mayor Sebastian Klein said waste management was a cost recovery charge and one that all councils in the state were subject to.
“For ratepayers on their invoices when they get them it’s hard to differentiate. A cost is a cost,” he said.
Cr Klein said it was another motivation to push for local and state governments to work together to produce their Towards Zero Waste targets to generate less waste.