Special team appointed to tackle €6.5m in outstanding bin charges
THE Government has warned Dublin City Council that it will struggle to recoup millions of euro in outstanding bin charges in a move that raises fresh doubt over the decision to privatise the city's waste service.
The council has now appointed a special project team to investigate the best approach to collect €6.5m from its former domestic refuse customers.
Former city manager John Tierney and his officials signed off on the sale of the city's bin service to Greyhound in October 2011 despite major opposition from councillors.
As part of the deal, Greyhound agreed to collect the outstanding debts on the council's behalf. The firm subsequently hired debt collectors in a move that has seen the level of arrears reduce. Nonetheless, €6.5m remains outstanding.
The issue of the debt was highlighted by the Department of the Environment which recently carried out an audit into various aspects of the council's business activities.
Auditors said they believe the council will struggle to recoup the monies outstanding.
"Under the agreement for the sale, the waste operator is responsible for the collection of the arrears outstanding from December 2011," the auditors state.
"Debtors at the end of 2014 amounted to €6.5m and in the circumstances it appears likely that the collection of these arrears will be difficult."
In response, City Manager Owen Keegan confirmed that a special team has been appointed to consider the matter.
"A project team has been set up to investigate and put forward proposals to resolve this issue. A decision on how to address the arrears will be determined by the end of 2015," he said.
In a statement, a spokesman for Greyhound said: "Greyhound and Dublin City Council agreed to assign the arrears to a debt recovery agency.
"Dublin City Council is liaising directly with the agency. Any queries can be directed to Dublin City Council."
Last night, Independent councillor Cieran Perry described the sale of the bin service as an "abject failure and a disaster".
"The council is spending huge resources on collecting across the city as well as on the issue of illegal dumping," Mr Perry said.
"And to this day, despite a pledge from Owen Keegan, we still haven't seen the contract agreed between the council and Greyhound," he added.