A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris
Tauranga ratepayers have invested heavily in three-waters infrastructure. Now, the government wants to buy $1.3 billion worth of your assets for just $48 million.
Council receives $68.6 million in revenue from these assets each year; could this be the worst deal since the days of guns and blankets for land?
There’s been $200 million for the Waiari water treatment plant, $100 million for the Southern Pipeline, and hundreds of millions in stormwater upgrades over the last 15 years.
Tauranga ratepayers have invested heavily in stormwater, clean treated sewage, and some of the best drinking water in New Zealand.
The government’s advertising campaign showing raw sewage coming out of taps and a child covered in it while swimming isn’t fooling anyone. Likewise, nobody believes the Department of Internal Affairs when they say it’ll save us money.
Council staff can’t even verify the DIA’s numbers. Furthermore, Tauranga ratepayers will be forced to subsidise other towns’ upgrades from Taranaki to East Cape. All the while, locals will have no say in how our money is spent.
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith sums it up nicely. “Ratepayers of each district on the coast will struggle with the concept of having their assets taken and being billed with large increases from the water regulator. Bills they will have no control over, where at present elections bring about accountability.”
Two councils have pulled out of discussions already, citing no value for ratepayers, with more likely to follow. Tauranga’s commissioners are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Legally they are accountable to Nanaia Mahuta, but morally they are accountable to ratepayers.