Wodonga Council is banking on $2.7 million surplus from waste levy which the Victorian Ombudsman found was misused by the city

WODONGA Council is aiming to draw a $2.779 million surplus from its waste management levy in 2018-19.

The forecast is contained in the city’s draft budget released this week.

The Victorian Ombudsman last month found that the Wodonga Council had overcharged ratepayers $18 million over the past decade and spent revenue from the charge on non-waste items.

The $2.779 million estimate exceeds any of the surpluses between 2006-07 and 2015-16 contained in the Ombudsman’s report.

The annual excesses in those years ranged between $1.1 million (2010-11) and $2.4 million (2015-16).

In 2018-19, the waste levy is tipped to generate the council $4.327 million, with $1.548 million of that figure covering costs such as the waste transfer hub ($784,000) and street garbage collection ($332,000).

The council this week committed to acting upon the Ombudsman’s recommendations, which included a call for the city to reduce its charge and only recover costs to cover collection and disposal of refuse.

Cr Ron Mildren said the council needed to demonstrate it had learned its lesson over the imbroglio.

“The community is expecting strong action to be taken both to win back some faith and trust and to establish an acceptable solution,” he said.

“The umpire’s whistle has blown, we have transgressed and the community is expecting that we collectively make the hard decisions to implement the solution.

“The sooner the solutions can be implemented the better it will be in restoring community faith and trust in the council.”

Feedback on the draft budget is being taken by the council until June 13, with it to be adopted on June 25.