The tip of the argument

RESIDENTS on the rural fringe of Armidale have accused council of “double-dipping” by forcing them to pay an annual levy to use the tip and then slugging them again at the tip gate.

The Armidale Dumaresq Ratepayers Association (ADRA) has launched a campaign to have the charges quashed, urging members to inundate the council with protest letters.

ADRA chairman Maria Hitchcock said it was “ridiculous” residents in villages like Ebor and Hillgrove were being hit with a $114-a-year waste management charge and then being asked to pay $10 each time they visit the tip.

They are among a clutch of homes in villages and towns which do not receive a council garbage service.

“I’ve got no idea who made the decision but somebody agreed that rural people with no garbage service should have to pay for the maintenance of tips,” Mrs Hitchcock said.

“They have to pay $10 for a normal household load at their local tip, when the same load costs just $3.50 at Armidale tip.

“We just find the whole thing terribly inequitable.”

She conceded the waste management charge, which started as $70, had been in for a number of years but residents had only recently established a ratepayers’ association to help fight it.

The group has fired in a submission to Armidale Dumaresq Council and has vowed to take it to ministerial level if they don’t receive an adequate response.

“They need to eliminate the charge altogether or ensure that every ratepayer shares the burden,” Mrs Hitchcock said.

She said regulations banning landholders from burning or burying rubbish were exacerbating the problem.

But Armidale mayor Laurie Bishop has strongly refuted the “double-dipping” claims, questioning some of the figures used by ADRA.

“This charge is levied in accordance with the Local Government Act for the operation of rural waste transfer stations … operation of the Armidale landfill and waste services overheads,” Cr Bishop said.

“This fee is only applied to rural residents that have an occupied dwelling.

Both rural and urban residents that receive a waste collection service currently pay $298 per annum.

“The $3.50 gate charge at the Armidale waste management facility stated by the Armidale Dumaresq Ratepayers Association is incorrect.

“The actual gate charge is $7.”

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