Maintenance Costs and Something Useful from Rubbish
Often overlooked as we build and improve our community infrastructure is the maintenance burden which begins early in the new asset’s life.
Structures as benign and as simple as footpaths suffer damage from tree roots and breakage from illegal use while the maintenance of more complex assets of buildings and bridges incurs growing cost as the structures age.
Road and stormwater maintenance never cease as our networks increase to support a growing population. In evaluating designs and tender bids our officers are very mindful of the future cost of maintenance which ultimately flows into our budget. Sometimes, as with the large investment at the Baulkham Hills Waves Aquatic Centre, maintenance costs for an old asset become a determining factor in an investment decision.
Outside the substantial grants from State and Federal Government and significant contributions from developers, most of Council’s other revenue is from your rates which, for a number of years, have been tightly controlled by IPART, an independent body chartered to impose controls on local government rates. Analysis of our financial projections through the coming decade show the likely impact of the maintenance cost of our increasing assets on our overall financial position. This Council will never lose its focus on a strong financial position regardless of what is thrown at us.
Thinking about Waves prompted me to call recently at the site where I caught up with the project site manager. I was delighted to talk with him as a 40 year veteran of ADCO, the construction company and the discussion further confirmed that we had made a sound decision in selecting ADCO as our builder. Work is progressing well despite periods of rain and, as the year progresses, the magnitude and beauty of this magnificent development will emerge.
My tenure on Council has enlightened me about the challenge of waste disposal in its myriad forms. We hear a lot about recycling and the so-called circular economy and unquestionably there are some important elements in our multi million tonne annual rubbish generation which lend themselves to recycling.
It is disappointing to see that contamination in the yellow bins remains a persistent problem but this simply reflects the complexity of materials we use in our daily lives. The container deposit scheme has been an outstanding success, metals, some limited plastics as well as paper and cardboard can be economically recycled and bulk items such as tyres and glass are also seeing some innovative technologies. However, beyond this lies a vast quantity of materials destined for landfill to blight future generations.
Wherever possible I advocate for incineration of this material; a technology in widespread use across the developed world, avoiding landfill and producing electricity to supplement our frequently stressed grid. Modern incinerators don’t emit odour and their very high operating temperature ensures emissions within globally accepted standards. Moving away from landfill is a whole of government challenge needing much more practical attention.