Monday, May 20, 2024

Water rates set to increase by 7.2 per cent

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Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, left, with Local Government Minister Simeon Brown, centre, and Auckland mayor Wayne Brown. Photo supplied

Aucklanders will avoid a staggering 25.8 per cent water rates rise due to the coalition Government implementing its Local Water Done Well policy.

The model, which is described as “financially sustainable”, was unanimously endorsed by Auckland Council’s governing body.

It will see a “more manageable” increase of 7.2 per cent instead while retaining local control of water assets.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference at Watercare’s central interceptor construction site today by Prime Minister and Botany MP Christopher Luxon with Local Government Minister and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown and Auckland mayor Wayne Brown.

“Under the Local Water Done Well solution we have announced today, Aucklanders will avoid the 25.8 per cent water rate increases previously proposed by Watercare,” Minister Brown says.

“We have worked closely with mayor Brown and Auckland Council, and are thrilled to announce Watercare’s more financially sustainable model will ensure water rates remain affordable both now and into the future.

“The previous [Labour] Government wasted $1.2 billion over several years to deliver a water reform plan that was wasteful, took away local control, and was divisive.

“It was resoundingly rejected by voters. Some said Local Water Done Well could not be done.

“But within the space of just six months, the coalition Government has worked with Auckland Council on designing a new model for Watercare.”

The new model means Watercare will be able to borrow more money for long-term investment in water infrastructure and spread the borrowing over a longer period rather than front-loading the cost on to current ratepayers.

Mayor Wayne Brown says he’s been working closely with the Government to provide a simple, affordable water solution for Aucklanders.

That hard work paid off when the council’s governing body unanimously voted for their preferred option at Thursday’s meeting, he says.

“This outcome is exactly what we’ve been looking to achieve.

“The new Government asked us to come up with a preferred model, and they’ve agreed to implement it, which is good.

“I want to thank the minister and the prime minister for the way they’ve handled this.

“The idea of water rates increasing by more than a quarter in the year ahead was unacceptable.

“There had to be a better way, and by working in partnership with central Government we have found one.”

The new model for Watercare will require legislative changes which will be made through the Local Government Water Services (Transitional Provisions) Bill expected to be introduced later this month.

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