Council backs down on 40 flat charge for refuse services

Neans McSweeney, South-East Correspondent

But a new, annual charge in the region of 100 is being proposed by council management in a crisis bid to make up a massive shortfall in expenditure for the service.

County Manger Ray O’Dwyer was expected to announce the interim flat fee charge yesterday. But, after a meeting with council members yesterday morning, it was decided not to introduce the charge.

Mr O’Dwyer, however, emphasised the issue was still live and would have to be dealt with. “It is not going away. We will have to deal with it,” he said.

“We discussed the matter at a meeting this morning and the members were not happy to have to have an increase. I have taken this on board.”

Fine Gael’s Damien Geoghegan, who vehemently opposed the significant charges hikes, was anxious the manager put on record it was the end of the matter for the short-term.

“I take it that we will not be hearing about it again until budget time,” he said.

After the meeting, Sinn Féin’s Brendan Mansfield said while everyone acknowledged the council’s finances were being drained by the refuse crisis, it was not fair Waterford residents should have to pay, yet again.

“As a party, we are totally and utterly against these charges. And if any hike is proposed in the estimates or any other time, I will also be opposing it,” he said.

City councillor Davy Cullinane said intense pressure will be exerted on the local authority not to increase the charges. “We are opposed to such charges where the necessary money is not being spent on proper recycling facilities.

“The manager today has reacted to pressure from the community. There was a lot of speculation about this new charge. People are already paying E15 per wheelie bin lift. That’s outrageous. To increase a flat charge on top of this would be ridiculous. We would see it as waste charges spiralling out of control.”

Just over a month ago, the county manager called a meeting of councillors to explain the refuse situation and to seek remedies to the waste crisis. Among the ideas proposed at a meeting, behind closed doors, were privatisation of the service and the cutting back on the regularity of bin lifts.

Earlier this year, the county council admitted that charges to its 19,000 customers would have to significantly increase.

As part of a presentation, it was proposed that charges would almost double next year, bringing the cost of a wheelie bin lift to a proposed record high of E23 from E13.

It was also suggested compost waste charges across the county would

increase from E7.50 to E11 and recycling bags shooting up from E2.25 to E5.

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