No warning for Levy hike – President’s comment

Article image - No warning for Levy hike – President’s comment Local Government Association of South Australia President, Mayor Sam Telfer

China’s National Sword policy has had a huge impact on waste and recycling in our country, and South Australian (SA) councils haven’t been exempt.
A market analysis commissioned by the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA-SA) in 2018 found that the annual cost to SA councils from this policy was $8.8 million per year, and it’s likely this figure is even higher today.
Now more than ever we need partnerships between state and local government that will make waste and recycling more affordable.
However, our sector was blindsided last month by a whopping 40 percent increase to the Government’s Solid Waste Levy, announced in the 2019/20 State Budget.
The Levy was $100 a tonne in metropolitan areas, but rose to $110 on 1 July 2019, and will increase to $140 on 1 January 2020. The hike will also hit regions, where the levy is based on 50 percent of the metro rate.
This will see ratepayers pay around $42.5 million through the Levy in 2019/20, which is an increase of $8.5 million.
Making matters worse, the majority of this funding isn’t going towards improving waste and recycling, but is being diverted to various state government departments.
The best that councils can hope for is to claim a share of the meagre $2.5 million a year on offer to local government and industry to support waste management improvements.
The Solid Waste Levy increase will not fix the recycling crisis we’re facing, and will not produce more sustainable waste management outcomes for our communities.
Every council in South Australia has been consulting with their communities about every aspect of their budgets and working hard to deliver some of the lowest rate increases in recent years.
Meanwhile the State Government was working behind closed doors to increase this stealth tax by 40 percent - with no consultation and no warning!
Given the timing of the announcement – just a week or two before budgets were due to be ratified – most metropolitan councils had no choice but to pass on the Levy increase in full to their ratepayers.
The timing of the increase is puzzling given we are in the midst of an Inquiry into local government costs and efficiency by our State Government’s Productivity Commission, as well as a Parliamentary Inquiry into Recycling.
Driving downward pressure on council rates in a shared responsibility, and the LGASA and its members will continue to push back against all forms of cost shifting, including using councils to collect state government taxes.