The fate of the Waikanae Greenwaste and Recycling Centre will be determined at an extra important Kāpiti Coast District Council meeting this month.
Council's Long-term Plan 2021-41 has proposed to close the centre, located off Park Ave, from August 1.
At a Long-term Plan workshop councillors gave staff a steer on their preference for the future operation of the centre via an unofficial show of hands.
Councillors Janet Holborow, Martin Halliday, Rob McCann, James Cootes and mayor K Gurunathan indicated a preference to close the centre while councillors Sophie Handford, Gwynn Compton, Jackie Elliott, Jocelyn Prvanov and Bernie Randall wanted it to remain open.
Cr Angela Buswell didn't participate in the discussion.
Gurunathan broke the deadlock using a casting-decision to close the centre.
But the centre's future — to close or stay open — will be officially made when council finalises its Long-term Plan on June 24.
Cr Jackie Elliott, who holds the sustainable waste management portfolio, said an earlier workshop gave majority support to keep the centre open until the divided second straw poll where she believed "the mayor should not have given himself two votes".
She had asked the mayor and CEO for the show of hands to be revoked and the centre to remain open "at least until staff have carried out a consultative process in Waikanae to see if a majority of residents would be willing to keep it open and pay a $17 community rate per annum to pay for it".
"We only had a $17 per Waikanae household option put in front of us [this month] and frankly this should have been a key question in the Long-term Plan."
Gurunathan said Elliott was "confused" because "no votes were taken as it was a workshop and not a formal council meeting".
"This workshop was a critical one for the LTP process as we had to give council staff a clear indication of the potential majority support on a number of important matters in the proposed plan together with our consideration on the feedback from public submissions.
"The support or otherwise of councillors is done by straw polls.
"In this particular instance there was an even split.
"I then exercised the mayoral powers under s 41A of LGA 2012 which outlines the role of the mayor.
"This section gives the mayor the responsibility for leading the development of plans, policies and budgets for the consideration of councillors.
"While others, like the Auckland mayor, choose to lead from the front I have opted for a collaborative approach.
"Under this section the mayor retains the ultimate call.
"The split straw poll, left as the status quo, would have meant no direction to staff to progress the LTP draft documents through the audit office to meet our statutory deadlines.
"As mayor I exercised my s41A responsibilities to break the deadlock to give staff the direction they needed.
"I suspect Cr Elliott would not be complaining against my exercise of S41A if this had supported her choice."
Council infrastructure services group manager Sean Mallon said, "While we appreciate many Waikanae residents use the centre, this proposal [to close] was about ensuring we provide equitable levels of service across the district.
"Other suburbs and areas of Kāpiti are paying for the Waikanae Green Waste and Recycling Centre through their rates but not benefiting from the service due to its location.
"The distances to travel to Otaihanga transfer station are on a par with distances travelled by residents in Paekākāriki, Raumati or the rural fringe of Waikanae (11-15 mins on average).
"Waikanae rural residents or residents that have no rubbish collection have had to travel to Otaihanga since 2012 to dispose of rubbish and that level of service is deemed acceptable taking into account travel distances and times.
"A recent survey of people using the centre found that a majority already have kerbside recycling bins and could use this option most of the time, with their overflow or bulk recycling able to be taken to the Otaihanga transfer station."
There was also consideration about the rates impact for all Kāpiti ratepayers.
"It costs about $123,000 per annum to resource, maintain and manage the Waikanae Greenwaste and Recycling Centre and we believe that spend could be better used in providing other services, facilities and projects in the district."
Mallon said the community had been asked for feedback about the proposal to close the centre, via the recent Long-term Plan consultation phase.
"About 200 of the 700 plus people who made a submission, commented on this proposal.
"The majority of these submissions expressed concern with the lack of greenwaste drop-off facilities.
"At the same time, council asked for people's views on the proposed average rates increase of 7.8 percent.
"Almost 60 percent did not support the proposed increase.
"The rates impact for year one of closing the facility is 0.2 per cent.
"If the facility remains open, the average rates increase will be higher by 0.2 per cent."
Elliott said the centre enabled Waikanae residents to "reduce household waste and dispose of their recyclables responsibly in their own town".
"Many are restricted in their ability to drive ... many elderly Waikanae residents are not confident driving on the highways.
"Having it enables their resilience and independence.
"Many, like my household of four, are reducing waste so effectively with a little effort that we don't even need a contractor supplied wheelie bin."
David Barber, who lives near the centre, said its closure would "negate efforts to deal with climate change by forcing a large number of vehicles, both private individuals and garden/tree-cutting tradies, on to the road to the Otaihanga landfill.
"That doesn't make sense."