The waste tax, which they dubbed the “bin tax”, was criticized by angry residents, who lashed out at council members at a meeting where the new fee was voted on.
Yarra City Council met Tuesday evening to consider a proposal to include the cost of waste service removal as a separate line item in a price notice given to residents.
Waste removal is currently being included in the Public Rates Bill, with the council claiming the new provision will make notices “more transparent”.
Members of the Yarra Residents’ Caucus lined up to give their opinion, saying the move was a “money grab” by the council as waste tax would be exempt from the 3.5 per cent cap on price rises.
Fees may be as high as $115 annually, according to council documents.
“You need to get your house in order to raise your hand and ask for more money,” said Kenneth Gomez, a community member.
“The really annoying thing to me is that you claim to have a consultation, but you charge people without talking to them first.”
Councilors who voted in favor of the motion defended the move, saying Yarra Council was the last Victorian council to introduce the changes.
“No council in Victoria has been able to find an alternative solution,” said councilor Edward Crosland.
“Decoupling waste charges is an opportunity to provide greater justice to members of society who are currently paying for a service they simply do not have access to at this time.”
Members of the community erupted in protest after the plan was voted on, and a security guard was reported moving in front of the councilors’ table in response.
Throughout the meeting, cries of individuals could be heard as the councilors spoke, forcing Mayor Claudia Nguyen to repeatedly ask for “respect”.
Chancellor Crossland called on some members of the community to send threatening letters and emails about the waste tax.
“They were really inappropriate and threatening and that’s really not okay. It’s perfectly fine for people to have differences of opinion, but some of the things we’ve received have been completely inappropriate,” he said.
Official memos by residents included accusations of confidentiality and breach of trust about the consultation process.
“What you’re doing here with your secret reporting and your secret decision-making, because that’s what it was, really encouraged the secrecy that’s all around,” Mr. Jackson said.
“That’s why we’re offended and that’s why so many people are here, because the trust has been breached.”
Dozens of concerned citizens gathered outside the meeting to protest the motion.
Yarra Council brought in security guards due to council members’ concerns, a move criticized by many members of the community.
“What’s also disappointing is that tonight there’s security on the plane, and you pay to protect yourself and love the security from the people who picked you up. How ridiculous is that?” said Kevin McMahon.
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