Carbon tax repeal may cut Whytes Gully tip fees

Wollongong residents could soon be paying less for a visit to Whytes Gully tip thanks to the repeal of the carbon tax, if recommendations of council staff are accepted by councillors on Monday.

In the longer term, it could mean ratepayers will also save money on their domestic waste bills.

However, the $4.5 million in carbon tax contributions Wollongong City Council has already collected from ratepayers should not be handed back until the council has more information from the federal government, staff say.

Wollongong was one of 317 entities deemed liable for the carbon tax when it was introduced by Labor in 2012.

Despite not having to pay the tax immediately, the council increased tip fees and domestic waste charges from the 2012-13 financial year because, under the scheme, it was liable to pay for carbon emissions generated from landfill for decades beyond the date the waste was received.

For instance, staff said one tonne of waste received in 2014 would continue to incur a financial liability until about 2082.

Wollongong residents would see a small reduction in tip fees from August 1, under the council's proposal.

Three dollars would be knocked off the minimum tip charge of $34, while the charge per tonne for mixed waste would drop by 8.5 per cent from $338.30 to $309.50.

Applying the savings to rates notices would be more complex, however, as this year's bills were already with the printers and must be issued by July 31.

For this reason, council staff have recommended the savings not be passed on until 2015-16, as they said issuing credit to the 12,000 people who paid their full year's rates upfront could lead to extra processing costs.

Ratepayers could save between $12 and $18 a year due to the carbon tax repeal, depending on the size of their bin.

About $4.5 million has been collected from ratepayers and tip users to date.

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But, even though the controversial tax has now been axed by the Abbott government, council staff say are unable to make a decision about the money's future use.

"As yet, the federal Parliament has not provided further information regarding the future use of this money collection," they said in a report to councillors.

"However, the Australian Landfill Owners Association warn that landfill carbon emissions cover such a large period, if there is a change of government in three years and Labor reintroduces the carbon price, the liabilities will return."

The council could choose to use the accumulated funds to reduce future waste charges if it can retain the money..

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