Tuesday, July 16, 2024

$44m fund to assist Councils with Three Waters delivery

Every Council in New Zealand is set to receive at least $350,000 of additional funding to ensure they have the resourcing necessary to implement the Three Waters reforms, Associate Minister of Local Government, announced today.

He said the Government had set aside a $44 million fund to assist Councils with the costs and resourcing necessary to set up the new Three Waters system.

“These reforms are about delivering clean and safe drinking water at an affordable price for New Zealanders. They will deliver significant cost savings to Councils and ratepayers over time, but we acknowledge additional resources are needed in the short term to get the new system set up,” Minister McAnulty said.

The Minister said that since becoming Associate Minister of Local Government, he had heard consistently that Councils were facing significant demand on staff time and resources.

“This fund is being established to assist with that,” he said.

“The Three Waters reform is the largest change local government have faced in a long time, and is creating additional work for councils who are already under strain from staff shortages, winter illness, and COVID.”

Mr McAnulty said the funding would allow local authorities to draw in expertise to support Councils through the Three Waters transition period, and continue business as usual.

“Each council, regardless of their size, will receive $350,000 over 12 months with top ups allocated based on the ‘Better Off’ funding method.”

“This funding is an acknowledgement of the challenges facing councils in the short term to achieve long term benefits for their communities.

“While we always knew there would be cost in the transition, that cost is dwarfed by the $185 billion bill ratepayers would face to maintain and upgrade infrastructure over the next 30 years.

“Without reform, a household would face water costs of up to $9,000 per year, or the prospect of services that fail to meet their needs,” he said.

The Minister said he’d heard a range of local government opinions on Three Waters but said Councils generally understood the need to reform the current system.          

“Over the past two weeks I’ve met with 21 rural and provincial councils and the concern of resourcing has come through consistently, so I’m glad to support councils with funding certainty.”

“I still have 34 councils to meet with and I’ll be looking for their insight as to the best way we can support councils as a Government, and how to target future transition funding support,” Mr McAnulty said.

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