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First Tranche Of Funding Open To Support The Future Of Local Government And Communities

Councils are now able to apply for the first tranche of funding from the Three Waters Reform Package to invest in their local communities, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.

“For far too long, Councils have had to offset difficult decisions about funding water infrastructure and services against other important initiatives, with water infrastructure often coming out second best,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“Councils are facing significant challenges over the coming years; with population growth, housing pressures, an increase in natural disasters and climate change, it is important that Councils are able to prepare their communities for the future.

“As well as saving ratepayers money in the long term, the Government’s reform programme will enable councils to focus on the wellbeing and aspirations of their communities. This “better off” funding can be used for those projects communities feel they need the most, be it local parks and gardens, swimming pools, libraries and community centres, or investment in public transport and infrastructure to protect against extreme weather events and sea level rises.

“Applications are now open until 30 September for councils to submit funding proposals for their share of this first tranche of funding,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

The terms around the use of this funding are set out in the Heads of Agreement negotiated by Local Government New Zealand last year.

“We are pleased to be working with Local Government New Zealand not just on these reforms, but on other challenges and opportunities for the sector, including the Future for Local Government Review. Their contribution has been key to our improved relationship and policy development approach,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

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It is estimated $185 billion is needed to fix, upgrade and maintain New Zealand’s water services over the next 30 years, to ensure that critical water infrastructure is maintained.

The Department of Internal Affairs has issued guidance to councils on the application process.

The first tranche of $500 million of funding will be available from 1 July 2022. Any unallocated money will be rolled into the next tranche, which becomes available on 1 July 2024, when the four publicly-owned Water Service Entities are established.

Notes:

As part of the Three Waters reform programme, the Government developed a funding package to support the local government sector through the transition to the new water services delivery system and position the sector for the future.

The better off component of the funding package is:

  • $2 billion of funding to invest in the future of local government and community wellbeing;
  • In recognition of the significance to the local government sector (and the communities they serve) of the transfer of responsibility for water service delivery.

The use of this funding supports councils to transition to their new role post-reform through meeting some or all of the following criteria, as laid out in the Heads of Agreement:

  • Supporting communities to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy, including by building resilience to climate change and natural hazards.
  • Delivery of infrastructure and/or services that enable housing development and growth, with a focus on brownfield and infill development opportunities where those are available.
  • Delivery of infrastructure and/or services that support local place-making and improvements in community well-being.

The announcement of this support package was made in July 2021. Further information including council allocation, can be found on the Department of Internal Affairs website.

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