Ratepayers to fund Yenda flood clean-up bill 

RATEPAYERS will foot the bill for the Yenda cleanup following last year’s floods after the state government refused to reimburse council the cost of removing tonnes of rubbish from outside homes.

Piles of ruined furniture, children’s toys, personal items and electrical goods lined the streets of Yenda within days of the evacuation order being lifted, as residents cleared out their sodden homes.

As part of the army of community members who came out to help in any way they could, council staff worked for more than a week to clear the mounds of bulky rubbish from the streets.

The operation came at a cost of almost $370,000.

According to council general manager Brett Stonestreet, an officer from the Department of Public Works advised among the chaos that a grant would be available to cover the cost of removing the items.

But last week council received a letter to say more than $300,000 could not be claimed because the waste was not considered public debris.

“We were advised at the time that, because it was such a chronic health risk to have that rubbish sitting around, we had to remove it immediately to stop the outbreak of disease,” Mr Stonestreet said.

“The number one priority for council is to look after the health and wellbeing of the people living here so we got in and assisted them without waiting for bureaucracy to catch up.

“The alternative is beyond nonsense – we wouldn’t ever have contemplated not doing it.”

Council will now write to the Department of Emergency Services in a last-ditch bid to recover the money.

Henry Street residents Bill and Margaret White were among many who had no way of removing their damaged belongings without council’s help.

Aged 82 and 79, the couple lost everything in the floods and were unable to live in their house for more than 10 months.

“Unless you were young and agile and had the appropriate vehicle, it would have been impossible to get everything out to the dump – particularly because the Yenda tip was closed,” Mrs White said.

“I’d hate to think what would have happened if we were left to fend for ourselves.

“The rubbish would have sat there for a lot longer, which doesn’t bear thinking about when people had rotting meat in their Sulo bins.

“Council did the right thing and they shouldn’t have to pay.”

Yenda Progress Association president Kay Pellizzer has offered to write a letter to the department pleading for council’s funding application to be reconsidered.

The Department of Public Works has refused to reimburse council for clearing away piles of rubbish like this one in South Avenue after the Yenda floods

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