Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) is to hand a £1.72m underspend back to its member councils.
The partnership hit problems in overspending in 2015, which led to the dismissal of its director Steve Burdis after councils found it faced a £2.8m deficit for the 2014-15 financial year.
In March 2015, a report prepared by technical consultancy WYG found there had been “precious little evidence of robust processes to manage finances within the business”.
But the DWP said it had now amassed the underspend for 2017-18 through a combination of better than expected waste disposal tonnages and haulage costs, and favourable recyclate disposal prices.
But a report to the partnership noted that those factors “have already changed to an adverse position”.
The DWP had a £33.1m revenue budget for 2017-18. The report proposed that £1.37m should be returned to councils according to the formula by which they share DWP’s costs, £75,000 carry forward to pay for contract advice and the remainder used to top up reserves.
The report warned the situation in China might affect the favourable trends seen this year.
“While there is no definitive view on how the recyclate price will behave in the short to medium term, there is pessimism due to the effect that the Chinese recyclate import changes are having on the wider international market,” it said.
It added that there were limited alternative outlets for waste exports if China strictly enforced restrictions on mixed plastic and mixed paper reprocessing.
”This will put pressure on the remaining reprocessors who will be at capacity, leaving a glut of these materials in the short term. This glut will force down the commodity value which, in turn, will increase any fee or reduce any rebate for the DWP.”
The partnership’s future is unclear because local government in Dorset is due to be reorganised in 2019. The present councils will be abolished and replaced by one unitary covering Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and another the remainder of the county.
The overspend share-out:
Dorset County Council £882,470
Weymouth & Portland £100,228
West Dorset £123,408
East Dorset £81,406
North Dorset £74,074