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The City of Greater Bendigo has received one grant of $500,000 from the state government’s $466 million Sustainability Fund, despite paying in millions in landfill taxes.
Auditor-General Andrew Greaves will assess the fund after finding that while it has grown by 294 per cent since 2012, the amount distributed via grants has fallen by 34 per cent.
The fund exists to support better waste management, more sustainable resource use and innovative practices to combat climate change, and is maintained by a levy on waste collected at landfills.
Last financial year the City of Greater Bendigo contributed $2.2 million, yet since the fund was established in 2005, it has furnished the council with only $500,000 with which to buy bins for the organic waste collection.
“I think it’s fair to say we would have expected to see more,” City of Greater Bendigo director presentation and assets Craig Lloyd said.
Mr Lloyd said he anticipated the council would seek funding from the initiative for the next steps of its waste review, which would likely see the council head down the path of waste recovery and recycling.
He said he hoped the state government would support the city in such a bid.
A spokesperson for Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said a record $613 million expenditure in landfill levy revenue was approved in the last budget.
Projects to be funded include a waste recovery and recycling initiative, a biodiversity project, a sustainability initiative in schools, a climate change adaptation plan and measures to modernise the state’s energy system.
The spokesperson also said the levy had provided a $162.5 million boost to the Environment Protection Authority.
Buloke Shire Council does not pay into the fund, as it has transfer stations instead of licensed landfills.
But it has benefited through a $25,000 grant for two transfer stations at Wycheproof, and a $100,000 contribution towards a station at Charlton.
Director works and technical services Anthony Judd said the council would like to see more of the fund’s money invested in the innovation space, as well as supporting local government with rehabilitation of landfill sites.
He said that as the fund was built on ratepayers’ money, he would like to see initiatives that would reduce costs for them.
Mount Alexander Shire Council has paid $156,000 this financial year, and welcomes the audit.
“We would welcome additional funding to rehabilitate two closed cells that need to be permanently capped and fund resource recovery initiatives,” director sustainable development Jason Taylor said.