“On 4 August we will be talking to communities about the best way to provide services at the times and on the days they need, so rates don’t have to be spent paying for downtime at the stations,” said WDC Waste and Drainage Manager Andrew Carvell.
“We will be consulting with communities to identify new hours and then running those hours on a trial basis for three months to see how things go,” he said.
“The aim is to reduce overall hours, but the hours we are aiming to cut are the ones when use is lowest. How we reduce and rearrange opening hours will be up to the communities involved.”
Mr Carvell said Council had Waste Transfer Stations in eight locations across the District.
“The aim is for no one to be further than 15 kilometres from a waste collection service, so we have stations where people can pay for their rubbish to be dropped off for collection by our contractors and transferred to Re:Sort in Whangarei. From there it goes into recycling or to the Puwera Landfill, just south of Portland.
“We have stations at Uretiti, Tauraroa, Kokopu, Hikurangi, Ngunguru, Parua Bay, Ruatangata and Oakura.
“Our least-used station is at Ruatangata, with an average of only seven vehicles a day, and only a fifth of a tonne of rubbish a day. When we reorganised transfer station hours some years ago we proposed closing Ruatangata and the community asked us to reduce the hours instead. Since then it has been open for 20 hours a week and that seems to have been working well. There is no change proposed to the number of hours there, although the community might want to take the chance this time to alter when the opening hours are.
“That approach worked really well there, so we are looking at doing things the same way in terms of talking to the other communities, getting their ideas, customising for their needs and then running a three month trial.
Mr Carvell said the most used station is at Hikurangi, with an average of 61 visits and 3 tonnes of rubbish coming in each day. Uretiti takes the highest volume of rubbish, 4 tonnes a day, from an average 46 visitors a day.
“Even so, there are large spells when no one is visiting them, so we would like to work with the community to ensure they are staffed during the highest-use periods, around 28 hours a week. This is similar to the approach taken by most other rural districts comparable with Whangarei, such as at Warkworth and in the Far North District.
“To ensure people get to say 'what they want and when they want it,' we will be putting boards up at the stations from 4 August, explaining some options we have looked at, and calling for the community to say what they think of those, and for home-grown solutions if ours aren’t to their liking.
“People will also be able to fill out a form in the Leader next week, and provide feedback. Consultation will close on 20 August."
Mr Carvell explained that the fee charged at transfer stations brought in about $380,000 a year, which did not off set the $1.54 million they cost to run and the Net cost to the ratepayer of running the stations is $1,142,000 annually. The proposed reduction in hours would save approximately $200,000 per annum.