National will leave ratepayers footing the bill of upgrading critical water services infrastructure to ratepayers and leave already struggling councils with eyewatering costs, says Labour Local Government spokesperson Kieran McAnulty.
“Since 2021, information has been available that shows small districts will have brutal rates increases to continue to meet acceptable standards for water infrastructure,” Kieran McAnulty said.
“National shows no concern that small rural districts will be hit the hardest. The cost of making essential improvements to water treatment plants is still high whether you’re in large metropolitan council or a small rural district. The difference is a small rural district only has a fraction of the population to pay for it, meaning those rural families would be unfairly facing the biggest increase to their household budgets.
“Protozoa barriers, for example, cost tens of millions of dollars to install and maintain, yet some districts in New Zealand only have small populations of ratepayers to carry that burden. To make matters worse, those councils are often at their debt caps so have no choice but to rely on rates to make the unavoidable investment.
“Under National’s unfunded model, those councils will get no help. This is despite National promising them they would. Many of the Mayors I spoke to took National’s promise in good faith. But National has allocated nothing to water services in its fiscal plan.
“New Zealand now has a dedicated water regulator which is enforcing the standards we all expect. The requirement to meet those standards is the basis of the projected investment required in each district. And that adds up to $185 billion over the next 30 years.
“Labour’s Affordable Water Reforms protects ratepayers from those unbearable cost escalations.
“In the Waikato for example, the annual rates bills and water charges could be as high as $7,600 without reform. With a Waikato water services entity in place the cost born by ratepayers will be more like $2,700.
“In the top of the South Island, ratepayers will be staring down bills of just under $7000 each year without reform. With reform that is reduced by half.
“These water service entities will have the focus, expertise and scale to make these investments without crushing small ratepayer populations.
“Unlike National, we refuse to leave these councils and communities alone in facing this.
“One thing is clear this election, If National win, New Zealanders lose,” Kieran McAnulty said.
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