Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Right-of-reply to Pete Smith's opinion feature on waste disposal

Reply by Dunedin City Councillor Andrew Noone

Pete Smith has given a historic account of the evolution of Community
Clean Up Days, his memory of events date back well before my
involvement as a elected member so I accept his opinion on what's
happened in the past. Looking to the future is where I want to
respond, particularly the issue of charging for Community Clean Up
Days.

We need to accept that the service is not under threat, what is
proposed is a charge yet to be determined as this issue has been
referred back to Community Boards for comment before a final decision
is made. Four Community Boards receive the service.

So why charge? This issue arose 18 months ago during the 06/07 Annual
Plan process, staff were asked (as they are every year) by Councillors
to identify any areas where savings could be made without a reduction
in the level of service. The Solid Waste Department identified this
activity being without a charge, contrary to the New Zealand Waste
Strategy and Dunedin City Council's recently adopted Resource Recovery
Waste Management Strategy.

So what does the Dunedin City Council strategy say? It has a target of
Zero Waste to landfill. It focusses on the need to integrate with
broader resource stewardship, resource recovery and waste minimisation
initiatives. We realise that Zero Waste to Landfill is sometime in the
future so to get to that point there is a need to change our approach
from being a throw-away society to a society that prevents, reduces,
re-uses or recycles waste. How do you change people's behaviour? The
Strategy promotes financial disincentives, ie a charge via the
user/polluter, a targeted or general rate. There is also a push to
full cost accounting in both Strategies, so costs should be
transparent and, where practicable, be charged as closely as possible
to the point at which they occur.

Finally the proposed charges for Community Clean Up Days would not
cover the full cost and a significant subsidy would exist as Council
does recognise the wider community benefits this service provides.
Hence the proposed funding: part user pays, part general rate.

by Andrew Noone

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