LGNZ President, Stuart Crosby, has welcomed the Government’s announcement of a support package for councils as part of three waters reform.
Mr Crosby says the $2.5 billion package sets councils up to focus on community wellbeing.
“The package ensures no council will be worse off and every community will be better off under reform, as well as demonstrating a new way for central and local government to work together. It reinforces the pivotal role of local decision making,” he said.
“Local government is vital to delivering wellbeing and the package acknowledges this. It also provides significant funding for this work, which looks different in every community.
“This agreement and package signal confidence in local government as a critical partner, both for this reform and in the future.
“We are looking ahead to the Future for Local Government review, which the Government has committed to partner with us on as part of this deal.”
Mr Crosby said the Government’s three waters model, which relies on significant scale, works best if everyone participates – and after today’s announcement councils now need to look closely at the information to understand their position.
“The key thing for us now is that councils have the time to work through the package and what it means for them and their communities. That will be our focus for the next eight weeks.
“The ‘better off’ part of package will help councils maintain momentum as they transition out of water services delivery and focus their strategy and operations on improving community wellbeing outcomes.
“The “no worse off” part of the package includes targeted support so that no councils are financially worse off when they transfer their assets. This is designed to protect communities from any negative financial consequences of councils losing their water services role.”
He said that more than a year ago, LGNZ’s National Council agreed that the status quo was unsustainable and agreed to work with the Government on its preferred model.
“The Joint Steering Group, created in mid-2020 to provide feedback on the reform, has shared the sector’s concerns with DIA and challenged and tested policy as it’s been developed. This has significantly influenced the shape of the reform,” Mr Crosby said.
The Government’s announcement was made at the LGNZ three-day conference in Blenheim, which is being attended by almost 700 people.