GM rubbishes state waste levy hike

SHOALHAVEN City Council general manager Russ Pigg has launched a broadside at the NSW government over a proposed increase to the waste levy he says will rip $6 million out of the city with little return.

IMPOST: Shoalhaven City Council’s general manager Russ Pigg.

IMPOST: Shoalhaven City Council’s general manager Russ Pigg.

In a strongly worded email to local MPs Gareth Ward and Shelley Hancock and circulated to all councillors, Mr Pigg took aim at the government over library funding and then launched into an attack on the waste levy.

“In a double whammy, council is very much opposed to your impost of a further 12 per cent increase (how do you do it?) in the waste levy in 2014/15 to $120.90 per tonne,” he wrote. 

“This will result in more than $6 million of our ratepayer funds being taken out of the Shoalhaven and into Treasury coffers with very little returned from that pool of funds. That’s equivalent to about $120 per household across the city.”

Mr Pigg referred to average Shoalhaven household income being about 20 per cent less than Wollongong and well below the state average and the 12 per cent unemployment rate being double the national rate. 

“Our residential rate levels, on average, are also well below our neighbouring northern councils however both Wollongong and Shellharbour are seeking even higher increases for 2014/15. Our rate levels are both a reflection of historic levels and the ability of our residents to pay. 

“Council doesn’t expect handouts, just a fair go. As the financial squeeze gets tighter council may well be forced to cut services just to make ends meet in the future.”

Kiama MP Gareth Ward accused Mr Pigg of telling only one side of the story.

“I’m disappointed the general manager failed to recognise this government has returned more funds to the environment. That includes record funds for encouraging recycling in local communities as well as remediation and other projects across the state. 

“I’m annoyed he’s only told one half of the story and it’s also disappointing he saw fit to engage with me through the media by sending [the email] out to all councillors. 

“I’m happy to engage with the general manager in a discussion based on facts but I won’t engage in political games,” Mr Ward said. 

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