Where was the beef in the waste management newspaper series?

Posted July 21,2013

Recently the local daily ran a six part series on waste management, an oxymoron to most Guelph residents. The stories about how efficient our waste management team is handling our garbage left out important facts … ergo the beef.

Such as: What are the total operating costs of the $33 million Organics Waste Processing Facility, including debt cost and depreciation? What are the total operating costs of the recycling plant? What are the pricing projections including expenses and revenue for the next 20 years? What are details of the contract with Maple Reinders’ subsidiaries, Aim Environmental and Wellington Organix, to turn wet waste into compost? How much is the city receiving for the sale of finished compost?

None of these questions were raised in the series, thus no answers.

There have been vague management statements that some of this information is proprietary. While the private operating companies running the plant may want to protect business secrets and methods, they do not own the plant, the people do. For waste management and council to enter such an arrangement, is an affront to the taxpayers who are entitled to know the real costs.

Most taxpayers don’t know Milton Burns. He is like the rest of us who are frustrated trying to understand why taxes keep going up and spending is out of control. Except he has a financial background to dig into the numbers.

But Milton has a gift. He studies the official City of Guelph financial statements, including budgets, to decipher what is really going on in the management of finances. He’s been doing this now for about six years since he first detected errors and problems in the official reports.

Ever the flinty-eyed observer, Milton had a letter published in the local daily, following its waste management love-in series.

His analysis of waste costs was not complicated. In it, he compared the amount that Guelph citizens pay per capita compared to the costs in Oxford County, the Region of Halton, Barrie, Stratford and London.

Guelph’s per capita 2011 waste costs were $386.97. The other cities’ per capita waste costs averaged $225.60. The reported waste expenses ranged from a high of $316 to a low of $159.

As Milton points out, Guelph’s waste costs are 71.1 per cent higher than the average of the example cities.

And this analysis was based on official audited statements in 2011 and did not include Guelph’s addition of the $33 million organics plant or the $15 million cart collection system.

It is easy for the city to claim it is number one in waste diversion to the landfill until you factor in that some 6,400 condominium residences in the city do not have city waste pick-up service. These homeowners must hire private contractors to haul the unsorted waste to the transfer station and then on to the landfill. On top of that, they must pay for waste collection through their taxes.

Our Mayor says that waste management issues will not be a factor in the October 2014 civic elections.

What do you think?

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2 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

2 responses to “Where was the beef in the waste management newspaper series?

  1. Milton Burns

    Results for 2012 waste expenditures just recently became available on the Ministry of Municipalities web site. As expected Guelph remains number one in terms of expenditures per household.

    In fact it has achieved the next to impossible as the already highest cost facility managed to increase its expenditures per household by 20.4% in a single year to $465.98.

    Congratulations, taxpayers on your ownership of a brand new organics plant.

  2. David Birtwistle

    And now they’re merrily moving ahead with the next waste project of waste-to-energy for a very specific area of GUELPH-yep,you guessed it,the new downtown condo complex/River Run/etc! david.birtwistle@sympatico.ca

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