Ariège: “faced with unsustainable expenses”, Smectom du Plantaurel wants more control

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The elected officials of the mixed union for the collection and treatment of household waste met on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 on the occasion of a union committee, in the Isabelle-Sandy room in Foix (Ariège). A session marked by the holding of the debate on budget orientation, organized by the Smectom du Plantaurel.

He was “the big shot of the evening”. This Wednesday, March 15, 2023, the elected representatives of Smectom du Plantaurel (joint union for the collection and treatment of household waste) participated in the debate on the budgetary orientation. The trade union committee met in the Isabelle-Sandy room in Foix, Ariège.

Before opening the debate, the president Florence Rouch returned at length to Smectom’s financial situation and its prospects, first of all highlighting an “unfavorable budget context”.

“We’ve had an inflationary shock over the last couple of years. We’ve found ourselves trapped against our various suppliers,” he said, notably citing an explosion in the cost of energy supplies.

There was also talk of raising the TGAP (general tax on polluting activities), from €40 per tonne of waste landfilled in 2022 to €51 in 2023. If the number of tonnes were the same as last year, this would represent €345,000 of additional expense.

“Our interest is that you increase separate collection, because there will be less landfill at the ISDND (non-hazardous waste storage facility) in Berbiac, so less TGAP to pay!” exclaimed a union representative.

“The Smectom faces unsustainable expenses”

Let’s add that at Smectom, real operating expenses grew faster than revenues between 2021 and 2022. If it devoted all its gross savings to it, it would take the union 4.6 years to pay off its debt.

The president noted: “We notice a crossing of the income and expenditure curves since 2024. The drift is too important to consider that the banks follow…” Clearly, the economic situation is very delicate.

“The situation is serious. Smectom is facing unsustainable expenses”, André Péchin admitted a few tens of minutes later. “To be able to tighten the bolts, we will be leasing some trucks instead of buying them,” explained Florence Rouch.

One of the goals for 2023 will be to better control operating costs. To achieve this goal, the levers are the modification of the collections as well as the continuation of the waste prevention and reduction actions.

The president continued, “It hasn’t been our job to pick up trash for a long time.” The consortium therefore also focuses on the progressive optimization of the rounds of residual domestic waste and separate collection.

The participation of the inter-municipalities is the subject of debate

However, between increases in energy prices, TGAPs or inflation, Smectom’s operating costs could still see an increase of €3,683,000 in 2023.

Especially since after bringing the systems up to standard and modernizing the sorting centre, the consortium still has to invest to guarantee the correct performance of its activities, with, among other things: a “rejuvenation” of the vehicle fleet, the standards of the recycling centre, the setting up of the differentiated collection centre, or even the passage to incentive pricing, which aims to limit the production of waste by charging the user only for what it produces.

The investments should require grants from the Occitanie Region, the Department, Citeo and Ademe, but also a loan. The one included in the initial budget for 2023 would be over 1.8 million euros.

In the debate that followed the presentation, the vice-presidents returned at length to the contributions of the EPCI (public bodies for inter-municipal cooperation) adhering to the union’s financing. An increase of 1.8% advanced.

“I am a partisan. I don’t see how we could go any further,” assured Jean-Claude Courneil, president of the Arize-Lèze community of communes, going in the direction of several of his counterparts.

For Foix-Varilhes, Thomas Fromentin gave him a different opinion: “If we don’t go above 1.8% this year, we’ll have fun, eat up the surpluses and defer the rate increase to the taxpayers”. Observations supported by Alain Toméo, from the village of Mirepoix. The budget will have to be voted next Wednesday, 29 March.

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