New approach to waste collection can save money - Cllr Aengus O'Rourke

At the September meeting of Athlone Town Council, Councillor Aengus O'Rourke asked the council executive to examine the cost implications for the council if it were to withdraw completely from providing a commercial and domestic waste collection service. At the meeting on Monday evening Cllr O’Rourke said, “This council currently provides a waste collection service to homes and businesses in the Athlone area at a significant loss to this council. The cost of running the service for 2009 will be approximately €813,000 and the projected income from the sale of the bin tags will be in the region of €500,000. The simple maths is that the council is set to lose in excess of €300,000 to operate the service.”

Cllr O’Rourke continued, “The sale of council tags has fallen significantly in recent years as competitors are more than 25 per cent cheaper. For as long as the council is more expensive, the loss gap will get bigger year on year. If we continue to provide this non-core service at the current trend levels, by the end of this council term we will be losing approximately €500,000 per year. At a time when every cent has to be carefully accounted for and allocated with great consideration, we have an immediate duty as a council to examine all activities to ensure that we are as lean and efficient as possible.” Cllr O'Rourke went on to say, “We have however a strong obligation to those in receipt of wavered / free tags that rely on this refuse service. So, I propose that we maintain a service to those in receipt of free tags and rather than do the work ourselves that we outsource this work to one of these good value and very hungry private refuse operators via a commercial tendering process.

“The savings made from exiting this service could be substantial, such savings can be put to great use such as reinstating the program of work that had to be postponed following our reduced funding from Government last year. Perhaps we could look at freezing business rates for two years which would give businesses some peace of mind in these difficult times. We could more immediately tackle the areas where traffic calming is required like Magazine Road, St Anne’s and St Paul’s. We could provide more funding to the Tidy Towns who have done great work for Athlone already and revisiting programmes like the home conversion assistance grant, replacement of windows and doors in council houses etc; there is so much potential.”


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