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Statement From Mayor K Gurunathan: Billions Soothe Collateral Damage Of Water Reforms But Long-term Solution Still MIA

A $2.5 billion support package is an initial salve for ratepayers facing collateral damage from the Government’s Three Waters Reform but a one-off lolly scramble of funding doesn’t address the longer-term burden the proposal has them bearing, says Kāpiti Coast District Mayor K Gurunathan.

The package, announced today, aims to support local authorities through the transition process and the financial impacts of the reforms.

“While I’m happy to see that the chorus of concerns raised by councils across New Zealand about the equity of this proposal has been heard, and a soothing balm in the form of transitional funding has been offered up, the ratepayer is still very much on the hook for whatever comes next,” says Mayor Gurunathan.

“Right from the outset, Government acknowledged that the real issue here is funding and while there has been a lot of focus on what the future costs might be, the proposal still offers no solutions that reflect our communities’ ability to pay.

“My role is to advocate on behalf of Kāpiti ratepayers, who have invested heavily and proactively in water infrastructure and services at the cost of many other nice-to-haves over the years. This proposal would still see them stumping up for a wider solution.”

Mayor Gurunathan says he is also pleased to hear that further information addressing concerns about the proposed ownership model of the new entities and the removal of accountability to local communities would also be forthcoming over the next few weeks.

“We continue to support the objectives of this programme – improved safety, quality, environmental performance, and affordability of New Zealand’s three water services. We want to see the best outcome for New Zealand, for our environment and for our residents,” says Mayor Gurunathan.

“We acknowledge the challenges ahead and that the costs of delivering water services will climb. The Government have been very clear that they believe that scale is the solution. We need time to assess the veracity of that. We will take the next eight weeks to work with our community to understand the proposal and the data informing it before taking a formal position on our next steps. I’m particularly keen to work with Wellington Region mayors to develop a unified position.”

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