Jump in Ashhurst dumping fee proposed

Last updated 09:00 07/12/2013

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The cost of dropping off rubbish and recycling at the Ashhurst refuse transfer station could be about to double.

The Ashhurst facility, with charges about half of those at the Malden St transfer station in Palmerston North, attracts heavy patronage, including people who find it pays to travel out to the village from the city.

City council rubbish and recycling assets engineer Natasha Simmons said the charges paid at Ashhurst covered only a quarter of its operating costs.

This financial year it was expected the Ashhurst station would bring in up to $51,000, but its costs were more than $210,000.

The low charges, which had not risen since 2007, were attracting customers from the city, and from beyond the city boundary.

With people making more than 2000 trips a year to the station, which opened for only six hours on Saturdays and two hours on Tuesdays, the demand was creating queues, delays and frustration.

"The whole concept was that it was just for the local community," she said.

"The huge demand puts pressure on the facility that was never designed for that volume of use."

Ms Simmons said rubbish left at the station was tipped into a "hook bin" that had to be taken to the Malden St transfer station in Palmerston North once full, and replaced with an empty one.

That process used to happen two or three times each Saturday, causing people to wait up to 15 minutes during the process, but customers were now filling up to eight bins each Saturday.

Ms Simmons said the difficulty in matching charges to costs was that the transfer station did not have weighing facilities. Charges were set by volume, but the council was charged by weight for delivery to Malden St.

Weighing equipment was expensive and not recommended for the small operation.

Ms Simmons said setting the new charges was a balancing act between ensuring people who used the facility paid for the costs of disposal, while remaining affordable.

"There are those in the community who either cannot afford to pay, or choose not to pay for disposal of their rubbish."

Under the new charges, people would pay $20 to drop off a car boot-load of rubbish, up from $10, compared with $31.50 for a full car-load in Malden St.

The cost for emptying a standard trailer would rise from $20 to $25, compared with Malden St's minimum $53.

People would pay up to $80 for larger double-axle trailers with cages or sides.

Ms Simmons is recommending that the Ashhurst facility stop accepting trucks, rubble, concrete and soil, and any e-waste, hazardous materials or liquid waste.

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The proposed new charges will go to the city council's finance and performance committee on Monday, with its decision needing full council approval the next week. If adopted, the new charges would apply from February 1, 2014.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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