Perth South passes budget, tax levy up 3.26%

“Wheelie bin” garbage and recycling collection approved

By Dan Rankin

At their March 1 meeting in St. Pauls, Perth South Council approved their 2016 budget. The approved fourth draft includes a 3.26 percent increase to the tax levy over 2015 equal to $93,000.

The third draft of the budget presented Feb. 18 had projected an increase to the levy of $96,603, equivalent to a 3.36 percent increase over 2015. Some of the changes that took place in the interim, according to Treasurer Rebecca Clothier, were a slight increase in revenue and a decrease in council remuneration.

There was still one more big ticket item to decide on for 2016 however; the planned switch to automated “wheelie bin” garbage and recycling collection, which brought out quite a few vocal opponents at the public meeting last month.

If Council voted to remove from the budget the plans to switch the municipality’s garbage collection system, it would cut into projected revenue for 2016, Clothier told Council. They would be looking at an additional “1.8 increase in the tax levy, about $54,000,” she said. “Because this budget is counting on six months worth of wheelie bin revenue we really wouldn’t be raising enough money to pay for the garbage services.”

2016 is also the final year a grant would be available to the municipality to cover $42,000 of the cost of purchasing the larger blue recycling bins.

“I’m really reluctant to kick this down the road for the next people,” said Coun. Stuart Arkett. “That’s a big chunk of change to throw away.”

Deputy Mayor Jim Aitcheson said he’d received more comments from the public in the form of calls, emails and visits on that issue than every other budget item combined. “I would tell them if they don’t want to do the wheelie bins it’s going to cost them more money, and the exact response I would hear every time is, ‘I don’t care, I don’t want wheelie bins.’ That was Blanshard residents and Downie ward residents,” he said. “I think, in all honesty, it’s really the way we should go, but the majority of people are definitely against it.”

Mayor Robert Wilhelm said based on conversations he’d had with West Perth and Lucan-Biddulph officials, they received a similar amount of complaints leading up to their adoption of the automated system. “Now they have zero complaints,” he said. “We’re here to be fiscally responsible. All of our decisions are not going to be popular.”

In a recorded vote, the decision to keep the switchover to the automated system in the budget passed 5-2, with Aitcheson and Coun. Melinda Zurbrigg the two votes against.