AFTER Cr David Lewis’ description of much “churning around of reports”, South Gippsland Shire Council has finally decided that offering a hard waste collection service would not be too hard to do after all and it will have one in the current financial year.
Council resolved at its July 28 meeting to call tenders and prepare contracts for provision of such a service to areas that have existing kerbside collection plus “an option to service the whole Shire.”
Cr Lewis has been pursuing the provision of hard waste for several years and was very pleased at the July 28 Council meeting that action was to be taken at last.
“We can’t do it all at once but we have to give people hope that we’re serious about setting it in motion,” he said.
“Bulk buying the service is cheaper than being done by individuals, it is not expensive – probably around $20,000 cost to Council – and our neighbouring municipalities are doing it.”
He continued, “I have left the [originally recommended] fee setting part out of the resolution but we want to pitch it at a level that helps the disadvantaged but discourages able-bodied people with a car and trailer from using it, so a 50% subsidy seems to be the lesson from the other Councils.”
No doubt many residents will be pleased too, with Council having previously received verbal submissions from elderly people for the service, Councillors indicating it was a popular topic of telephone calls and some 40% of South Gippslanders responding in the 2010 Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey that lack of a hard waste collection service was their top complaint about waste management.
(The survey did not pursue respondent’s views about whether or not they were willing to pay for such a service or whether they expected it for free.)
Instead of the traditional annual collection via a general notice to put all waste out on nature strips during a specific week, Council is looking at an ‘annual booked’ collection, with residents making bookings to be included in a collection made during a specified timeframe.
Under this system, the number and location of the collections would be known in advance, saving the collectors from checking right along every road.
Past reports to Council have indicated that nature strip deposits are associated with risks to passers-by, unacceptable items being left out and left behind, and heavy lifting issues.
However neighbouring Baw Baw Shire operates a twice-yearly booked collection service for waste left “on public land/nature strips” for $30 per pick up, with plans to increase the fee to $40, and a $10 pension discount applying.
Bass Coast Shire allows residents to book one collection per year “at call” at the subsidised cost of $25 (no concession discounts), with the collection being made from within private property boundaries.
Both municipalities only offer the collection service to those locations with regular kerbside garbage collection.
South Gippsland’s Waste Management Coordinator Geoff McKinnon favoured a combination of the best aspects of the neighbouring services, with an annual collection ‘at call’ during a set period (possibly October/November) from within private property boundaries in areas of existing kerbside service.
He indicated that full cost recovery would likely mean a fee around $70 but suggested a 50% discount for pensioners and health care card holders, with booking details not being passed to contractors until payment has been received for the booking.
Cr Mimmie Jackson stressed that the final report still to be put to Council recommending methodology, service area and grant funding options should connect the collection service in with Council’s (under-review) Waste Management Strategy.
“We shouldn’t look at hard waste collection in isolation,” she insisted.
Council’s decision, which was carried unanimously, also directed the service to commence in the current financial year.