ALL ratepayers across Victoria could face higher rates bills, according to a peak councils body.
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has warned China’s ban on its import of certain recycling materials could see ratepayers across the state slugged with higher rates.
Kingston Council has not as yet been impacted by the China ban but the MAV says major recycling firms with contracts with councils to accept recycling materials are “positioning for a statewide price adjustment”.
“While rural councils have been the most directly affected to date, it has become clear that the impacts will be statewide, with significant cost implications likely for all councils and ratepayers,” MAV CEO Rob Spence said in a statement.
“A number of rural councils are already having to consider costly short-term arrangements in order for their recycling services to continue beyond this week.
“With Victoria’s three recycling companies positioning for a statewide price adjustment, we are seeking an outcome that would enable recycling services to continue without a significant cost of living impact on Victorian residents.”
Council waste charges are excluded from the state government mandated rate cap.
The MAV advised price increases by recyclers is unbudgeted and need to be passed to households through waste charges that appear on rates notices.
Councils without a waste charge will have to seek an exemption from the Essential Services Commission.
Mr Spence said affected rural councils are discussing a 1.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent rates rise on top of the state government’s 2.25 per cent cap and metropolitan councils could be next in line to face the problem.
“The current situation is a perfect storm resulting from a crash in commodity prices, an increase in recyclable materials collected, and more than a decade of underinvesting Sustainability Fund money by successive state governments into our waste and resource recovery industry, amongst other factors,” Mr Spence said.
“We are calling on the Victorian government to provide assistance to councils until 30 June so that councils are not forced to pull funding from other essential services or send recyclable material to landfill.
“Significant investment in the recycling industry is also essential to help strengthen our system and protect jobs and the environment. The state’s landfill levy income held in the Sustainability Fund should be urgently allocated for these purposes.
“This is a complex issue that requires cooperation and collaboration between all three levels of government, industry and the community.”
Mr Spence said households should continue putting out recycling bins for collection unless otherwise advised by their council.
“Follow your Council’s instructions about what goes into your recycling bin. Also be mindful of your consumption choices, and buy products with recycled content to help close the recycling loop,” he said.
Kingston Council city assets and environment general manager Daniel Freer previously advised The News that council’s recycling contract is with CleanAway which uses Polytrade.