CHB Mail - 2021-07-22


Council to consider Three Waters package offer


This month the Government announced a $2.5 billion package “to support local government transition through the reforms to New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services”. Central Hawke’s Bay would get $11.3 million of that, Napier $25.8m, Hastings $34.9m and Wairoa $18.6m. But the reforms would mean the councils lose control of their water assets management to central government where they would be lumped together with the lower North Island and top of the South Island. Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker says “as a council, we will take time to consider all information on the table, alongside the assurance that Three Waters entities will be protected against privatisation and that all debt . . . will shift to the new water entities.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta said the money would “stimulate local economies while creating jobs and unlocking infrastructure for housing”. “The support package will ensure that no council is worse off . . . ” Ardern said. Mayor Walker says “we know the current model of Three Waters delivery is putting significant financial strain on our households, so for Central Hawke’s Bay this reform makes some sense. “The announcement gives us the confidence that central government is a willing partner to ensure a strong and bright future for local government. I think it is vital that we have a future focused on our people, our place and the things that make us uniquely Central Hawke’s Bay. “We need to keep being a part of the conversation. We are committed to continuing to provide input into this process to ensure any . . . reform has the right accountability mechanisms . . . The financial package gives us an opportunity to invest close to $12 million to strengthen our communities’ future.”


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