South Cowichanians trashing proposed regional garbage-recycling plan
Some Cowichan taxpayers are crying foul about the region's proposed $1.8-million trash-and-recycling plan.
William Dumont of Shawnigan Lake and others are upset they have until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 26 to gather at least 2,550 signatures on forms objecting to the Cowichan Valley Regional District's tote-and-truck plan, for a June start.
Under a formal alternative approval process, those names represent 10% of 25,500 electors in regional areas.
Dumont called the AAP a "negative billing option," allowing the CVRD to spend up to $20 million during the next 15 years by eliminating private haulers, and taking over the garbage and recycling collection business.
His math totaling $20 million comes from a 10-year trash plan to 2022, costing $13.6 million with fees from 12,000 homes. Add $7 million for the next five years to cover repairs, replacements plus some fees hikes.
He's also worried about plans for video cameras on trucks to inspect what people dump in totes. "I find that extremely odious and offensive from a privacy point of view."
"They want to take it away from the private sector and give it to themselves."
Not true, said CVRD solid-waste superintendent Jason Adair.
"Those contracts aren't being cancelled, they're expiring. Our position is to offer the lower possible user fees and taxes to users.
"The Municipal Financing Authority offers lower financing, and over 15 years it significantly reduces the budget," he said of private deals typically over just five to seven years.
Two recent hauling bids came in high, Adair said, declining to name those firms.
Dumont disagreed with the AAP process for borrowing dough for 17,000 trash tote and three trucks "all without public approval.
"You can't provide something to people who don't ask for it."
But the AAP is legal under BC's Local Government Act, Adair said of the user-pay system aimed at nine areas currently with a mix of fees.
"In 2013 the overall 1.107 million budget will be smaller than the current $1.142 million budget, and user fees will be cheaper for all residents; reductions will vary from $1 to $11. User fees in the past five yeas have increased by 40 to 60% for the manual collection.
"The financing's over 15 years through the Municipal Finance Authority, and interest rates will be more competitive than commercial sector borrowing (banks)."
Dumont claimed the CVRD would take a third of the fees to pay for running the program. Adair said that split is about a quarter.
"The administration portion is $344,044 of a $1,107,464 proposed budget. This includes buildings and land, human resources, IT, corporate services, finance, and wages outside of the operators wages."
Still, Dumont demanded a regional vote on the plan that will be approved if the counter-petition flops.
Adair said a referendum would cost up to $50,000; the AAP is staff and administration time costing up to $3,000.
"We sent information cards to every resident affected, through the postal service, and did open houses in every electoral areas on the AAP process.