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Three Waters Reform Proposal Potential Turd Degree Burn For Ratepayers

While the objectives of the Government’s Three Water Reform programme continue to have the support of the Kāpiti Coast District Council, the devil is indeed in the detail and could end in a turd degree burn for ratepayers, says Kāpiti Coast District Mayor K Gurunathan.

The proposal would see Kāpiti’s three water services rolled into an entity servicing the east coast of the North Island, Horowhenua, the Greater Wellington region and the top of the South Island.

“My main concern with this proposal is that our ratepayers, who have invested heavily and proactively in our water services and are well positioned for the future because of it, will end up bearing the costs of an entity that will need to prioritise addressing failing infrastructure in other areas over any work in our communities,” says Mayor Gurunathan.

“We are a rapidly growing district and our issues aren’t that we lack the size or scale to do things well. It’s always been access to funding and clear direction and focus that we need to make things happen.

“Bigger isn’t always better and lumping problems together doesn’t automatically fix them. The government’s key selling point seems to be that these entities will be able to borrow more than individual councils – is that the totality of the funding solution? Debt packaged and collected by an agency with a new name?

“The proposed model of quasi-ownership lumps us with all the responsibility and accountability, but absolutely no control or influence. Kind of like if I let you have my car but I’m still responsible if you crash it.

“I do support the proposed shared governance and oversight with mana whenua - however its clear from some reactions that there has been an absence of meaningful iwi engagement throughout the process, which mirrors our experience.

“My job is to advocate on behalf of our community and, while all the analysis paints a rosy picture of cost savings on the surface, the devil is in the detail for us.

“I’ll be working with my councillors and Council staff to understand today’s information dump over the coming weeks and to sort through whether this actually is beneficial for Kāpiti.”

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