Council awaiting govt response

2022-01-12T08:00:00.0000000Z

2022-01-12T08:00:00.0000000Z

NZME

https://hamiltonnews.communitynews.co.nz/article/281513639508442

News

he challenges facing Three Waters in Aotearoa are complex and have been put in the too hard basket for 20 years at both national and local levels. I have watched with interest, as councils have grappled with options for water management. I am no longer prepared to let local politics get in the way of solving these issues.” That’s the blunt message from Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta in her December 20 response to my November 12 letter to her, highlighting the seriously unfair impact the Government’s Three Waters reform will have on the Ka¯ piti Coast. What my letter said: “Our prudent and diligent investment in our Three Waters infrastructure has largely achieved the outcomes your reforms intend to do. Yet, your reforms, in your current modelling, will punish us with increasing costs, confiscation of our assets, and removal of our community’s right to make local decisions”. My letter included our “submission” to the Government’s eight-week engagement exercise with local councils. This submission outlined why the Government’s case for reform, while certainly applicable to other councils, did not apply to Ka¯ piti. The numbers we crunched completely countered the assumptions made by the Government’s consultant, the Water Industry Commission of Scotland’s assessment across a range of areas including its modelling, asset values, capital expenditure, debt and operations expenditure . more. The letter also appended the September 2018 report by the Auditor General’s Office which used a sample of four councils to study their demand management of water. Ka¯ piti was held up as a shining example. The letter stressed that we had not got a direct customised response to the counterfactuals our submission posed against the WICS’ generalised assessment. The Minister’s December 20 . . and response acknowledged this: “Firstly, I would like to thank Ka¯ piti Coast Council for the feedback you provided as part of the eight-week engagement period. The constructive comments provided by councils have highlighted a number of common areas that require further refinement, and my officials will be providing a response to your individual queries in due course.” This is what she said: “Irrespective of whether any single community, including the Ka¯ piti Coast District, does or does not currently face particular challenges in relation to their Three Water services, all communities will face significant investment requirements over the next 30 years to maintain, replace and upgrade ageing assets. All communities stand to benefit from reform, and analysis clearly shows that significant benefits are possible, but only through taking a consistent approach nationally. The full benefits of reform are only achievable through a comprehensive approach.” My response to the Minister’s claim that “all communities stand to benefit” is to state that the modelling and analysis used by WICS is faulty as far as it relates to Ka¯ piti. The Government is intending to respond to our individual submissions soon. This will be a critical test of the Minister’s claim that their analysis shows common benefits. As per the path that we had chosen we will, in good faith, await their customised response to our counterfactuals to the WICS assessment of KCDC’s position. Council will then be in a position to gauge the wisdom of supporting the Government’s reforms or exploring the option of joining the rebel forces, acknowledging that the good Minister’s blunt statement that she is no “longer prepared to let local politics get in the way . . . ” comes in the run-up to local government elections this year.

en-nz