Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Three Waters plan won’t work for Hamilton, says Mayor

Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate, has told the Government that its latest water reform legislation will not deliver the benefits Hamilton’s community needs.

In February, Council provided detailed submissions to Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on the Water Services Entities Legislation Bill, and on a Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill.

Speaking to the select committee on Friday, Mayor Southgate said her Council feels the draft legislation appears rushed, is not aligned with other existing or planned laws, and could impact the city’s ability to manage growth.

Mayor Southgate says it was important for Hamiltonians that Council was able to speak to the concerns raised in its submissions directly with the select committee.

“Our Council has been consistently opposed to Government’s four-entity model for reform. No-one doubts change is needed to deliver better Three Waters infrastructure across New Zealand, but this model doesn’t work for Hamilton,” Mayor Southgate said.

“The inconsistencies and flaws in this legislation, in our view, undermine the benefits the reform is trying to achieve and raise new concerns for our city.

“The prospect of removing almost all water services from councils, but leaving stormwater unresolved, creates major issues around how these services are funded, who is responsible for environmental impacts and how stormwater policies integrate with land use planning for a high growth council,” she said.

Mayor Southgate said Council’s 114-page submission leaves Government in no doubt of its position.

Council’s submission raises concerns about the prospect of ‘taxation without representation,’ a lack of connectivity between councils and the entities for growth, and a disconnected definition of stormwater.

The Bill would make the entities exempt from being rated by local councils. Hamilton Council’s submission says this is unfair, introduces an additional requirement on Hamiltonians to subsidise the region outside their rating base and is inconsistent with the national rating approach for other utility providers.

“There is still time for Government to make changes to this Bill. Hamilton has made it clear changes are needed to deliver the best outcomes for our community and I’m pleased we have been heard,” Mayor Southgate said.

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