A controversial bylaw aimed at ending a deficit for garbage pickup in Neepawa has been trashed.
After second reading, Neepawa city council tossed out a proposed bylaw which put a two-bag limit on residential pickup and raised basic service from $150 to $200 per year for businesses.
It also required residents to pay $3 for bag tags on any garbage exceeding the two-bag limit.
After a chorus of concerns and more than a dozen presentations against the proposed changes since its first reading on Feb. 12, city council unanimously defeated the proposed changes at a meeting on March 5.
Most of the opposition came from the business community.
“We’ve learned a lot of things that we think will work,” said Mayor Ken Waddell.
Unaudited 2012 reports show the city spent $167,000 last year covering its losses in garbage removal and it’s estimated the town has spent around $800,000 in total since it started dipping into its general tax revenue nine years ago.
The town has been losing money on garbage pickup since the current bylaw was implemented in 2006.
“It’s the intention of everyone, council and staff to have a fair and equitable bylaw in place for next year, that will avoid these kind of losses on the garbage side of operations,” Waddell said.
Since 2003, the costs have been rising after the town switched from its old landfill to Evergreen Environmental Technologies. A combination of accumulated deficits and high tonnage fees lead to the recent aggressive attempt to change garbage disposal rules.
The now-dead bylaw was meant to end the deficit in garbage funding, however Waddell admits council acted hastily to have it in place for the 2013 tax notices.
“We didn’t leave ourselves enough time to make the change so that was part of the problem,” Waddell said.
“Faced with these concerns and the very tight deadlines needed to make amendments in the time to be included in the 2013 tax notice, council decided to defeat the bylaw.”
Late 2013 is the aim for a new revised bylaw in order for it to apply to the 2014 tax bills and Waddell said there are lots of possibilities on how the town will retain taxpayer satisfaction while ending the costly subsidy.
“We’ve looked at tracking on a business-by-business basis, it’s been suggested whatever truck is used ... (there) be a scale on the truck so we weigh individual garbage production on a daily basis from each individual place,” Waddell said.
He said no one is suggesting the town stay on the same system, but the bylaw has to be rewritten.
“We anticipate that town staff, council and business will all be looking at ways to reduce garbage tonnage, to recycle more and examine all options going forward,” Waddell said. “It’s anticipated that losses similar to 2012 may in fact happen again in 2013. The bylaw will certainly be revisited and we anticipate strong and constructive input from the community.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 11, 2013