Ashburton’s mayor is questioning the Government’s maths after water reform figures showed local ratepayers would have to fork out more than $16,000 per household.
Figures released by the Government for the Affordable Water Reform revamp estimate it will cost the Ashburton community an average of $16,390 per household in 2054 for Three Waters services.
Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown has questioned the numbers, as based on those figures it “comes out to around $200 million per year just to maintain our water”.
“We spend about $11m now, the value of it [the assets] is $250m, it just doesn’t work in my head,” Brown said.
The numbers were calculated from information supplied by councils, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) water services reform programme executive director Hamiora Bowkett said.
The modelling was around relative differences in household costs, based on an estimated $120 to $185 billion identified investment required over the next 30 years, he said.
The DIA is preparing updated material to provide further detail on updated analysis, Bowkett said.
Ashburton councillor Tony Todd was sceptical of the figures, as he said it was hard enough to accurately predict what rates bills will be in three years let alone 30.
The other area of concern Brown raised is how a regional representative group (RRG) of 26, consisting of 13 mayors and 13 mana whenua representatives, will operate.
It is the largest RRG of the 10 entities and could end up being bigger as Christchurch may be looking for additional seats at the table.
Christchurch’s population of almost 400,000 has one seat, the same number as each of the other council’s including Mackenzie (population 3548), Waimate (4882), and Kaikōura (4000).
Any additional seats for Christchurch would be matched by mana whenua representatives, as the legislation provides for equal representation, Bowkett said.
Increasing from four to 10 entities impacted the economic scale of the reform, as there would be more administration costs.
The additional costs “will be relatively minor in comparison with the overall budget of the water services entities and unlikely to add significantly to household costs”, Bowkett said.
- By Jonathan Leask