Casey Council considers State Government offer for landfill remediation

MEDIA RELEASE: 18 June 2010

The City of Casey has received a State Government offer of $14.5 million in response to the City of Casey’s fourth business case seeking funding assistance for the Stevensons Road closed landfill, the site of the methane gas emergency of 2008.

City of Casey Deputy Mayor Cr Shar Balmes said the formal offer, received late last night (17 June 2010), represents approximately one third of the $41.9 million that Council is currently seeking, but is only 14.5 percent of the estimated long-term $100 million cost to remediate the landfill.

‘Council has advocated strongly over the past 18 months on behalf of its residents and we are pleased that the recent dialogue between Council and the State Government has resulted in an offer being put on the table.

‘Both Council and the Government agree on the importance of alleviating the massive financial burden currently facing Casey ratepayers and reducing the proposed rate increase of 11.69% to a lower level; however, we will need to carefully consider the offer in light of a number of conditions attached.

‘The question we need to ask is, does $14.5 million represent a good outcome for our community?

‘Whilst the rate rise in 2010-11 would be partially reduced if Council was to accept the offer as it stands, the benefit would be largely outweighed in the long-term due to one of the conditions imposed by the Government to take out the loan over an extended period of time.

‘So the key point to consider is, is it a fair offer? Council and its ratepayers would still need to pay $85 million or more over the long-term.

The Council will formally consider the 2010-11 Budget at its meeting next Tuesday evening and has received the largest number of submissions from the community in its history in relation to a draft budget.

‘We agree with the majority of the 90-plus submitters to the budget who are concerned that Casey ratepayers are being unfairly burdened by currently having to shoulder the entire costs of the remediation works at the landfill.

‘It’s important that the Government makes a substantial contribution to the costs in light of the decisions and actions of several State bodies, including VCAT which overturned Council’s decision and allowed houses to be built on the buffer zone next to the landfill causing methane to leak into homes, and the EPA which recommended calling the emergency that was subsequently found to be unnecessary by a panel of experts.

The State Government has requested a response to its formal offer by Wednesday, 23 June, following Council’s consideration of the 2010-11 Budget at its meeting on Tuesday, 22 June.