Poor recycling costs ratepayers

The failure of Waipā residents to recycle correctly and Waka Kotahi’s decision not to immediately fund urban pathways across the district will delay a major cycleway from Te Awamutu to Pirongia via Ngā Roto.

The $5.28 million set aside for the cycleway has been deferred for a year.

That has helped keep the proposed rate increase for the 2022-2023 rating year to 4.3 per cent, slightly down on the 4.4 per cent adopted in the Long Term Plan last year.

Recycling contamination, unplanned plant closures to deal with the fallout of contamination and the cost to send contaminated recyclables to landfill creates additional costs, council’s Strategic Planning and Policy committee heard on Tuesday.

And the $10 million programme to increase urban mobility which relied on 51 per cent of it being funded by Waka Kotahi has also been delayed because of a change in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s funding priorities.

Delays in achieving landowner agreements for the favoured off-road section of the Te Awamutu cycleway to Pirongia was also a major reason behind the deferral.

The usual public and community meetings are unlikely to be held because of Covid regulations so the consultation will include online webinar series, Communications and Engagement manager Hannah Blake said.

Called ‘A Cuppa with your Council’, the online events cover Ōhaupō, Pirongia, Te Awamutu, Kihikihi, Cambridge and Karāpiro, as well as topic-specific business and rural sector webinars.

“We can make sure our community has a voice,” she told the committee.

“We’ve all seen a lot of change over the last year, which has affected global supply chains, bottom lines, and an annual consumer price index increase of 5.9% to December 2021,” the consultation document says.

“Like many other organisations, council is facing constrained labour markets and higher construction costs, which make it more expensive to operate our business. We’re working hard to ensure that we deliver our services and projects in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ken Morris said staff had to take a hard look at the council’s work programmes to identify where it could tighten belts.

To get on top of the recycling issue, the council might need to increase the annual recycling charge, undertake more audits, or reduce the number of collections, he said.

The committee approved sending the council’s Draft Annual Plan out for consultation through to April 20.

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