Yarra mayor defends ‘bin tax’

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A Melbourne council has come under fire after voting in a controversial change to the way rate payers are billed for rubbish collection, with the mayor forced to defend its position.

On Tuesday night, the City of Yarra Council voted in a proposal to list the cost of waste service removal as a separate line item on the rates notice given to residents.

Waste removal is currently included in the general rates bill, and Yarra Mayor Claudia Nguyen says the change is being brought in so that the council could be more transparent with residents.

Sarah Harris and Waleed Aly grilled the Yarra Mayor about the change.Sarah Harris and Waleed Aly grilled the Yarra Mayor about the change.The fee could reach $115 according to council documents.The fee could reach $115 according to council documents.

“So we last night made a decision to separate the cost of waste from the rates notice and we’re doing that because we want to be really clear to the community what the cost of waste is, because the cost of waste is increasing really significantly,” she told The Project.

She said council expected the total cost of rates to go down after the waste levy begins to be billed separately.

Outraged residents have protested the decision, arguing it’s a “money grab” by the council as the separated cost will no longer sit under a cap on rate rises.

“You need to get your house in order to stick your hand out ask for more money,” community member Kenneth Gomez said.

“Really galling thing for thing for me is that you claim to have done consultation, but you’re imposing a charge on people without talking to them first.”

Dozens of angry residents protested the decision.Dozens of angry residents protested the decision.Mayor Nguyen said she was proud to bring in the change.Mayor Nguyen said she was proud to bring in the change.

Several individuals shouted and interrupted the Tuesday meeting before and after the vote was cast, with security guards seen stepping in front of councillors in response.

Part of their criticism is that Yarra Council spends 81 per cent of the money raised by rates on employees wages, compared to the average of around 60 per cent at other councils.

Mayor Nguyen said the difference was because Yarra runs “a lot more” services than other councils.

“We have libraries leisure, gym, kindergarten, maternal health, we run a suite of services for our community, and we‘re really proud to do so,” she said.

Ms Nguyen also responded to questions of whether she had thrown her political career “in the bin” by bringing in the controversial policy.

“I’m here to make the best decision for the community now and into the future, that’s why I was elected,” she said

“And I’m confident with how the community will see through that.”

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