THE full force of the carbon tax is about to strike Griffith.
Despite council’s initial confidence its emissions would not hit the 25,000-tonne threshold for the controversial tax, a last-minute calculation has put the city right in the firing line.
With increased costs to council will come increased costs to ratepayers.
The $23 per tonne carbon price will either be absorbed by council in its annual budget – as will be the case in Wagga – or passed on to landfill users.
Council staff will spend the next 12 months crunching numbers and coming up with a plan to pay the levy, which will be put on public exhibition before it is approved for the 2013/14 budget.
Council waste operations manager John Roser said it was too soon to ascertain the city’s financial liability but the amount would increase each year as rubbish piled up at the two landfill sites.
“We really thought we were going to be OK but I was concerned that it had all been a bit too easy to calculate, so I did my due diligence and went through the figures again,” Mr Roser said.
“A lot of the carbon tax calculations are worked out by assumptions; they’re based on population growth data and forward projections.
“All I can say is we will definitely go over the 25,000-tonne trigger and we will have a carbon liability going into the 2013/14 financial year.”
The carbon price will be imposed from July 1 this year but local governments have been granted a 12-month reprieve.
At a time when council is trying to cut costs, the realisation it will soon be forced to pay an ever-increasing levy has come as an unwelcome surprise.
“It is a great inconvenience to us,” general manager Brett Stonestreet said.
“It’s a very complex process to firstly calculate, then justify and set a mechanism to recover that tax from our ratepayers.
“We are in the unenviable position of being right on the threshold. Albury and Wagga have known for a few years that they were going to be up there but we haven’t spent a lot of resources on it because it was quite possible we wouldn’t have to pay.”
The majority of local emissions come from the two landfill sites at Tharbogang and Yenda as well as construction, demolition and industry.
Riverina MP Michael McCormack said it was “absolute nonsense” that Griffith should be included amongst the nation’s top polluters.
“The area has been turned from a wilderness into a veritable Garden of Eden and, as a result, there’s always going to be waste to be disposed of,” Mr McCormack said.
“Griffith doesn’t need this, it has always been an environmentally conscious place and the government should not be imposing this sort of burden on it.”