A legally blind full-time carer and pensioner fears the cost of the incoming green waste service will push the city’s most vulnerable further below the poverty line.
For Peter McGeary and his wife Kitty, the Ballarat City Council’s annual fee for the new service could mean the difference between the elderly couple being able to put food on the table or pay their rising utility bills.
Earlier this year, the council voted to introduce the system that will see single block dwellings in Ballarat equipped with 240 litre green waste bins as part of a greenhouse gas emission reduction program.
“It might not seem much to the every day person, but we’re battling,” Mr McGeary said from his home in Little Clyde Street. “We’re struggling to make ends meet at is and this could tip us over the edge.”
Mr McGeary has been a carer for his wife for the last 38 years. Mrs McGeary has an acquired brain injury and no movement in the right side of her body caused by injuries from a car accident.
“We’re battling every day because the cost of living is going up quicker than the pension,” he said. “You take a dollar a extra for week for electricity, a dollar for gas, another dollar a week for water out of a budget of $300 a week and there isn’t much left. Fair dinkum pensioners can’t even afford to live.”
A cost analysis for the green waste service estimated ratepayers will be slugged between $1.15 to $1.35 extra per week on top of their annual waste levy. It is equivalent to an extra $70 for ratepayers per year, which will be used to pay for costs including leasing collection trucks, distribution of new bins and a fortnightly waste pick up.
But Mr McGeary wants an opt out option for residents for the service due to begin on July 1. He said residents who don’t want the service shouldn’t have to pay for it.
“The trees I’ve got are about 30 years old and they grow an inch a year so there is no green waste there,” he said. “The only time we get green a waste is during Autumn when the leaves in the street fall. But why should I pay to cart the council’s rubbish away?”
Over the years, Mr McGeary’s rates have sky-rocketed from just $100 to more than $1000 per year. He feared if his rates increased further, he would be forced to sell his home of 40 years.
Mayor Des Hudson said residents would not be able to opt out of the 12-month trial, with all residents in single occupancy dwelling automatically signed up to the program. He said there may be hardship assessment for struggling residents who could not afford the payments. He urged anyone concerned about the fees to contact the council.
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