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Tauranga City Council to develop a water plan for Government approval

Tauranga City Council has moved quickly to respond to this month’s Government announcement about the repeal of waters reform legislation and the implementation of the ‘Local Water Done Well’ policy.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the Government has acknowledged the importance of communities and councils determining how their water services will be delivered in the future and has asked that all water supply authorities provide delivery plans setting out their plans by July 2025.

“Under this new policy, there is a recognition that many councils will need to consider a delivery structure which will allow the future investment in water supply, wastewater treatment and stormwater systems their communities need,” she explains. “That envisions the possibility of individual councils, or groups of councils, establishing a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO), where that will provide clear benefits for communities and service users.”

Anne says Tauranga residents have expressed a clear preference for local ownership of waters assets and local input into decision-making.

“Maintaining ratepayer ownership will be top of the list in the development of any water plan for Tauranga and the work underway now is designed to explore service delivery options for future elected councils to consider and decide upon. Any change from the current model would have to deliver both the economies of scale needed to ensure service costs are affordable, and the balance sheet separation which would allow the council to invest in future service upgrades without breaching debt to revenue limits.”

She adds that a CCO model would have some benefits but says simply joining together with other Bay of Plenty councils may not deliver the economies of scale and borrowing capacity and costs needed.

“The Government is developing new legislation which could enable balance sheet separation and in expectation of that situation, other councils will be undertaking similar processes to that underway in Tauranga. Whatever delivery models those exercises produce will require full community consultation to guide any future decisions.”

 

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