Council anger at ‘cash grab'

THE State Government has been accused of a ‘cash grab' that could cost the Lismore City Council $2 million annually within five years.

Cr Simon Clough said the majority of the government Waste Levy imposed on regional councils in 1999/2000 was supposed to go back to the councils to fund waste reduction programs.

However, the amount of money being returned to councils has fallen from 72 per cent of the levy in 2008/09 to 58pc this year.

“This tax grab by the Government has a particularly adverse affect on rural and regional councils, which are often located far from recycling depots,” Cr Clough said.

“What is really concerning is by 2016/17, we are going to be paying the Government $2 million a year, which will go straight into State revenue.”

After Cr Clough raised the issue at this week's council meeting, it was decided to write to the Premier and Treasurer to express their concern.

“At the very least, they have to go back to where we were two years ago,” Cr Cough said yesterday.

As part of the levy, the State Government has imposed targets for each council to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill through diversion programs such as recycling.

While no council will meet that target this year, Lismore is one of only three councils that will come close, the council's manager of commercial services, Phil Klepzig, has previously said.

Writing in the council's business papers, he said while there was some evidence that diversion rates had increased during the time the levy had been in place, it was debatable if the levy was the reason for the change.

“Waste to landfill has not changed significantly because of large increases in waste generation rates,” Mr Klepzig said.

“The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water claims 70pc (of the levy) is returned to the community and they keep 30pc to run their organisation. Notably, if this is the case, it does not come back to councils through waste grants for the purpose of waste and sustainability issues.”

A DCCEW spokesperson said the criteria for the rebate was expanded every year ‘to ensure all councils are continuing to improve their waste management'.

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