Council remains open-minded on Three Waters
Western Bay of Plenty District Council remains open-minded on the Government’s Three Waters proposal despite a multi-million dollar financial incentive.
The Government announced today that Western Bay of Plenty District Council would receive $21.3 million as part of the $2.5 billion Three Waters Reform package, which at this stage remains voluntary.
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber welcomes assurances no community would be worse off financially through the reforms, but says Council will take its time to look at this carefully and work with the Western Bay community.
He says Local Government New Zealand has been working with Central Government for decades to find a better way to fund Three Waters infrastructure and believes things are at a crossroads because the current system is not working and everyone agrees change can be made.
“For Western Bay we still have an open mind. We are encouraged by the information given, but will take our time over the coming months to ensure we work with our community to gauge their understanding of the need for change,” says Garry.
“The financial incentive is just one piece of this proposed reform. There is plenty more information to be worked through before we have a robust picture of what the final outcome will be.
“This is the most complex change in local government for 30 years, and so it is important this is a decision that is not rushed. We also need to understand this impact alongside other reform like the Future of Local Government.”
He reiterates that Council has done well to look after its water infrastructure, by investing at the right times and in turn providing a good service to its residents.
“Our infrastructure is in a good state and this reflects the major investments we have made in the past. Our assets are modern and well maintained and we are committed to ensuring this continues now and into the future.”
About the Three Waters Reform
The Government has announced it intends transferring management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater from 67 independent councils to four large publicly-owned entities. Each entity would be governed by an independent board.
The announcement means Western Bay of Plenty District Council is likely to be part of a central North Island entity involving 22 councils in the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and parts of Manawatu-Whanganui. Boundaries will be confirmed in September 2021, following further discussion with councils and iwi. The change will not come into place until 2024 and councils will continue to manage three waters until then.