Casey welcomes Liberal Party $24 million pledge to meet funding shortfall for Stevensons Road closed landfill costs

MEDIA STATEMENT: 18 November 2010

The City of Casey today welcomed the announcement by Shadow Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, that a Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government would contribute an additional $24 million towards costs incurred by the City of Casey for the Stevensons Road Closed Landfill.

While Council’s initial costs to June 2010 of $41.9 million for remediation and monitoring had been the basis of its request to the State Government for funding assistance, the State Government contributed $17.5 million, leaving a shortfall of $24.4 million. This shortfall had to be financed by Council through a combination of raising rates and cutting back on capital works.

This shortfall would be almost completely eliminated by the further $24 million grant promised by the Coalition. Of these funds, $17.3 million would provide benefit to Casey ratepayers and $6.7 million would provide benefit to City of Frankston ratepayers on the basis of the 72%-28% split of responsibility for the remediation and other costs associated with the former landfill.

Council has maintained that the State Government has considerable responsibility for the Stevensons Road Closed Landfill situation even occurring. A State Government agency, the EPA, issued a Works Approval and a Licence for the landfill to be established without a clay liner and another State Government entity, VCAT, overruled a Council decision to refuse the application for subdivision in the buffer zone of the landfill.

Acting Mayor of the City of Casey, Cr Shar Balmes, expressed her appreciation of the promise.

‘The Stevensons Road Closed Landfill issue has had a massive impact on the Casey community in many ways – just one of which is the financial impact of carrying the vast majority of remediation costs. At the forefront of Council’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the community has been securing a funding contribution from the State Government. A promise to fund most of the initial costs is something which Council has been pursuing for almost two years.

‘Council’s previous Mayor, Cr Geoff Ablett, led attempts for many months without success to gain genuine engagement with the State Government through the Premier, John Brumby, the Minister for Local Government, Richard Wynne, and the Minister for the Environment, Gavin Jennings. Despite his efforts, it was only a few months ago that the State Government even indicated a preparedness to make any contribution at all’, she said.

‘While Council appreciates the earlier contribution of $17.5 million from the State Government, we are very pleased that the Coalition is promising the extra $24 million.

‘Although the terms of the earlier grant prohibit Council from seeking more funding at present from the State Government, on behalf of Council, I call on the Labor Party (in its electoral campaigning capacity) to make a similar electoral promise to the Coalition.’

The provision of an additional $24 million as proposed by the Coalition would save Casey ratepayers $34.3 million in loan repayments over the next 19 years – an average of $1.8 million each year which can be used to provide capital works necessary to support a growing community or to provide a cushioning against future rate rises.

Cr Balmes also acknowledged the efforts of the community group, Make the State Pay, which has organised a petition to Council requesting Council to ask the State Government for additional State Government funding, and which has group members running in the election as candidates in a number of electorates.

Although Council is not legally able to currently request the State Government for a greater funding contribution, it has drawn the attention of the State Government to the request of the Casey residents. Councillor Balmes said the members of “Make the State Pay ‘are obviously concerned to ensure that a greater contribution from the State Government is forthcoming, and believes that the campaign by the group has helped to secure the Coalition promise’.

‘The efforts by Council to advocate on behalf of its community over the last two years are starting to bear fruit. I hope that the party elected to Government on 27 November is one which has made a commitment prior to the election to meet the costs Council has requested in its business case, and to relieve the Casey community of this burden.

‘At this stage, the Coalition has made such a promise, and we await with interest to see whether the Labor Party will do likewise’, she added.