Thursday, July 18, 2024

Hawke’s Bay councils’ half-billion-dollar cost-sharing recovery agreement

A decision on how some of the most urgent cyclone recovery costs for Hawke’s Bay will be shared between central and local Government has been made, with Hawke’s Bay’s five Councils today confirming the terms of an agreement worth up to $556 million.

The cost-sharing agreement will see Councils with Category 3 residential properties and central Government adopting a 50/50 cost-sharing approach to the voluntary buyout of Category 3 residential properties within their respective districts, with the Government contributing up to an estimated $92.5 million.

Government and Council contributions will be net of any insurance proceeds, the Councils said in a statement today.

The $556 million agreement also includes $203.5 million toward flood protection for the region. Subject to design, interest in land, and ability to build, the proposed flood protection works will benefit areas currently Category 2, from Wairoa to Pōrangahau. These include key sites across the Hastings district such as Pakowhai, Ōmahu, Waiohiki, and Havelock North.

In addition, funding will enable upgrades to specific pump station and telemetry across the network. Also included in this figure is $70 million specifically earmarked as the estimated cost of a much needed and fully funded flood protection scheme for Wairoa. 

The Councils say the remaining $260 million will go toward specific transport infrastructure projects and programmes, which would include fully funding the estimated cost of the Redclyffe Bridge replacement, the Puketapu, Matapiro and Aropauanui Bridge works in Hastings, Te Reinga Bridge works in Wairoa and critical roading recovery projects in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Further funding provisions would include culvert replacements, as well as additional support for transport resilience and repair initiatives across the region.  

Napier Mayor, Kirsten Wise said that while the negotiation process took longer than expected, it’s resulted in an improved outcome for the region as a whole.

“Through this negotiation process, with the support of lead negotiator and former Cabinet Minister, Chris Finlayson, Hawke’s Bay’s Councils have worked incredibly hard to achieve the best possible outcome for their communities,” she said.

“Right from the outset, we’ve made it clear that building back safer, stronger, and smarter is going to require investment far greater than anything the region has seen before.

“Crown funding and ongoing Government support is vital for ensuring the people of Hawke’s Bay aren’t left shouldering an impossibly heavy financial burden, and we’re pleased to see this Government support our region through the agreement reached with Councils this week. 

“However, more investment is required for our region to fully recover, and we look forward to further support from the Government to achieve this.” 

Mayor of Hastings, Sandra Hazlehurst says the agreement will be welcome news for cyclone impacted communities across the region.

“Through the negotiating team, Hawke’s Bay’s Councils have been working tirelessly to reach an agreement that enables whānau and communities to stand back up on their feet.”

“For those in our community whose properties become finalised as Category 3, having a voluntary buyout process in place empowers people to make informed decisions and provides greater certainty about their future.

“In order to move the agreement forward, those Councils with Category 3 properties, which includes both the Hastings District Council and Napier City Council, will now need to consult with their communities, and we look forward to commencing this consultation process over the coming weeks.

“Once that consultation process is complete, we hope to be in a position to share further information on the next steps for the voluntary buyout of residential properties in Category 3 areas directly with impacted property owners.

“On top of this, the Government investment in repairing our roading network and critical bridge rebuilds will provide our primary sector with confidence in our region’s recovery and get our economy moving again,” said Mayor Hazlehurst.

While welcoming the agreement, Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Hinewai Ormsby warned there were still difficult decisions ahead.

“While today’s confirmation of an agreement with the Government is significant, there will be some hard mahi ahead for all five Councils,” she said.

“As the only region-wide Council we have and will continue to work with the other four Councils to help Hawke’s Bay get back on its feet stronger and more resilient against future events.

“What lies ahead may be challenging for all Councils, including the need to fund each Council’s share of costs. We will need to ensure there is a plan to address some of the funding challenges and shortfalls that will inevitably exist.

“I’m confident, just as we all pulled together in the wake of the cyclone and to get this settlement negotiated for all the people of Hawke’s Bay, that we can overcome those challenges and move Hawke’s Bay forward, together.”

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Alex Walker said today’s announcement and confirmation of the funding and policy support from the Government was a big step forward for those households most affected.

“A vital puzzle piece but not one that fixes all our challenges. We will continue to look for opportunities to ensure Hawke’s Bay builds back stronger, more resilient, and more sustainable than before.”

Mayor of Wairoa, Craig Little said it remains essential for the region to continue working together.

“By working together, our region’s Councils and iwi have achieved a hugely positive outcome through the Government negotiation process, enabling the region to continue its transition toward meaningful, long-term recovery.”

“Just as the Councils have been working closely together, it remains essential for everyone involved in the recovery to work collectively for the benefit of all those communities across Hawke’s Bay that have been impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. We need to leave a positive legacy for our future generations, and it’s vital we get it right,” he said.

The Councils said the deal is subject to consultation with communities in Hastings and Napier.

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