Charges for disposing recyclable waste at South Tipperary's three civic amenity centres will increase between 20% and 100% from May 1 and the Co. Council's CEO has firmly rejected a call from some councillors to defer the imposition of the charges hike.
The Council says it needs to increase the waste disposal charges at its civic amenity sites at Carrigeen, Clonmel; Waller's Lot, Cashel and Garryshane, Donohill because of the rising costs of recycling and disposing waste and running these facilities.
The charges hikes will apply to 12 types of waste the public brings to the site. The charge for disposing of garden waste is the only one to decrease from €95 per tonne to €80 per tonne.
And it plans to introduce the waste disposal charges at its civic amenity sites at Nenagh and Roscrea once it has invested €600,000 in upgrading them to the standard of the South Tipperary facilities.
Co. Council CEO Joe MacGrath insisted the Council couldn't defer the imposition of the charges hikes when Cllr Michael Murphy (FG) called on management to do this at the local authority's monthly meeting last week.
Cllr Murphy twice appealed to Council management at the meeting to delay increasing the charges for a month to allow a benchmarking exercise to be carried out to compare the taxes with those levied by other councils around the country.
He said the charges hikes ranged from a 25% increase in the cost of disposing a black bag of refuse to a doubling in the cost of disposing plaster board. He was really concerned about the message the hikes will send out to the public at a time when the Council was dealing with the curse of illegal dumping.
The Clonmel councillor also questioned why their waste charges hikes were being introduced several months after the Council's 2017 budget was approved?
Cllr John Hogan seconded Cllr Murphy's proposal and fellow Clonmel Cllr Pat English (WUAG) also supported Cllr Murphy's stance.
"We are pricing our way out of a job we are doing at the moment and which we are doing excellently. I believe if these increases occur people will stop using our facilities and we will be closing them down," Cllr English warned.
But Mr MacGrath said the Council needed to get to a situation where the waste charges levied at its civic amenity sites were sustainable. The Council couldn't defer the increases any further as it didn't get a break in relation to the costs it incurred in running these operations.
"I think we have tried to push this as far as we can and May 1 is reasonable. Once the charges are applied we can do some benchmarking but I must apply them on May 1 otherwise the financial situation isn't sustainable," he insisted.
Cllr Murphy, however, argued that deferring the charges until to June 1 to bench marking the increases against what other councils were charging would help to bring the public on board with what the local authority was doing rather than just hiking them in two weeks time.
But Mr MacGrath wasn't for turning and he confirmed to Cllr Eddie O'Meara (Ind) that the Council would have to use money allocated to other services to subsidise the cost of running the civic amenity sites if the waste charges increases weren't implemented on May 1.
Co. Council Chairperson Cllr Siobhan Ambrose said she certainly didn't want to take money from other departments to fund the civic amenity sites as the Council was already "starved" of funds. She requested Cllr Murphy to reconsider his motion.
The Council's Director of Environment Services Sean Keating reminded councillors that increasing waste charges was a decision for the Council's executive, not councillors. The executive order was already signed.
He pointed out that Council staff had approached him several times for quite a while seeking an increase in these charges but up to now he held off on doing so due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Cllr Murphy responded that he fought as good a battle as he could on the issue but reiterated that he was concerned the message the increases will send to the public.
The civic amenity centre charges increases are -
A bag of refuse will increase from €4 to €5.
A bag of dry recyclables - €0.75 to €1
Roll of recyclable bags - €1 to €1.50.
Bulky item - €10 to €12.
Single bed mattress - €10 to €12
Double bed mattress - €15 to €18
Metal per tonne - €38.59 to €40
Garden waste per tonne - €95 to €80
Plaster board per tonne - €95 to €200
Car trailer of recyclables - €16 to €18
Residual waste per tonne - €181.60 to €200
Loading residual waste per tonne - €10 to €12
Loading dry recyclables - €60 per load (12 tonne) to €10 per tonne.