Kaipara District Council Reserves $16 Million New Future: Three Waters Better Off Funding

Dargaville is home to one of two potential new KDC library centers as a result of Three Waters Better Off funding. Photo / Susan Botting

By Susan Botting – Local Democracy Reporter for Northland

Two new community library centers are under consideration for Kaipara after the board officially voted this week to sign more than $16 million in government funding for Three Waters Better Off.

The Dargaville and Mangawhai centers will potentially include a library, digital facilities, meeting rooms and a multipurpose space for events, activities and learning.

They will be designed to reflect the communities of Kaipara, incorporating Maori history and concepts.

Kaipara District Councilor (KDC) Karen Joyce-Paki said the new library centers in Kaipara would provide facilities of the type that Kaitāia, Kerikeri and Whangārei already had.

They would provide much needed meeting places where the community could meet informally.

The majority decision to accept KDC’s Better Off funding came after a heated and at times polarized debate at the August board meeting.

The board signed for the Better Off money of $16.14 million, to be paid in two parts.

The first $4.04 million, available now, will be used to study and design the two library centers.

The second, $12.2 million, will be used to build the facilities. The second payment is scheduled for 2024 – after central government elections next year.

Commitment and Transformation KDC chief executive Jason Marris said Better Off funding was not government compensation paid for the council’s Three Waters assets.

This was in recognition of the importance of transferring responsibility for the Three Waters to the water service entity, he said.

Morris said the amount available for KDC was calculated based on population, deprivation and land, which is how they formulated how much better funding would be for the council.

The money cannot be used for the Three Waters infrastructure.

Kaipara Mayor Dr. Jason Smith said people should not view KDC’s Better Off funding request as supporting Three Waters.

    Kaipara Mayor Dr. Jason Smith.  Photo/NZME
Kaipara Mayor Dr. Jason Smith. Photo/NZME

Councilor Victoria del la Varis-Woodcock, an opponent of KDC Three Waters, said accepting the money meant the council would not be able to speak out against the restructuring of Three Waters.

Smith said that was not the case.

“The government has confirmed that Better Off’s funding request will not impede our ability to continue to exercise our democratic right to voice our concerns about water reform,” Smith said.

He said funding for Better Off would come from Entity A’s Auckland Council and the WDC. This was Entity A’s first example of cross-subsidization, with money from the larger councils to subsidize the smaller KDCs and FNDCs.

Meanwhile, the board at last Wednesday’s meeting also voted to say yes to more money from the Three Waters government via transition funding of $422,000.

This supports the costs of handing over KDC’s Three Waters sector to the new Northland-Auckland Entity A inter-regional water services configuration.

KDC’s Acting Managing Director of Infrastructure Services Anin Nama said the board’s transition funding meeting decision would ensure that KDC’s three-water assets were on the table at the start of the first new development plan. management of Entity A’s assets for its Northland-Auckland domain.

Entity A will be one of four national water utility entities supporting the water, wastewater and stormwater assets currently owned by the ratepayers of KDC, the District Council of North (FNDC), Whangārei District Council (WDC) and Auckland Council. .

WDC is part of a trio of New Zealand counsel challenging the government in the High Court over ownership and property rights in relation to the transfer of these assets.

Nama confirmed that the transfer of “old” debt from the historic Mangawhai wastewater treatment system to the new Entity A would also be part of the Three Waters transition process.

This would come under closer scrutiny later this year, with what would be a second Three Waters Government Bill coming forward around December. However, a head start would be taken on this work now.

Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air

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