At a special budget meeting last month councillors were split two votes a piece on the controversial matter. The decision to maintain the differential payment plan was only passed with the casting vote of Mayor Helene Cameron.
Councillor Bob Merriman was not present for the vote.
“This has been a most difficult matter, particularly given the high level of community interest,” said Cr Susan Salter, who opposed an immediate shift to a flat garbage charge for all households.
“The biggest challenge is the impost on the ratepayers who own the quarter of properties in the Borough with the least value. These ratepayers, approximately 600, would see a substantial increase in their kerbside waste management charges were Council to move to a fixed charge model in one step,” she said.
Councillors Peter Russell and Sue Wasterval argued the scheme, which results in higher rated properties paying upwards of $700 more than lesser-valued homes, should be scrapped immediately.
“I do not believe the owners of higher valued properties are necessarily richer than those with lower valued properties as there are far too many variables within this that would have to be taken into account,” Cr Wasterval said.
“If everyone is charged the same amount for the same service it is very clear to all, everybody, what the service really costs. Consequently I believe that there should be equal pay for equal service.”
The Borough has used the differential approach to garbage collection for some 20 years. The community only became aware of the strategy after the state government’s 2.5 percent rate cap forced it to isolate the charge from the general municipal rate.
The Council will conduct a review of its overall rating strategy before revisiting the issue.