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Better off funding package to be discussed

meeting

Wairoa’s Elected members will decide how they will move forward with the Central Government’s Three waters ‘better off’ funding package at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, 09.08.22.

The funding is part of a $2.5 billion Government funding package to support all territorial authorities to transition to the new water services delivery system, and to position councils for the future. 

The funding is labelled by the Department of Internal Affairs as a ‘better off’ package which is an investment by the crown into the future for local government and community wellbeing.

At today’s meeting, elected members will decide on priority projects to enable the project team to submit a request to the Department of Internal Affairs to spend the $4.66 million funds allocation, being Tranche 1 of Wairoa’s share of the package.

Wairoa District Council Chie Executive Kitea Tipuna said if elected members decide to go ahead and unlock the funding, the proposed projects they will then consider are mostly existing projects that have insufficient budget to complete, or plan to be loan-funded to complete. The aim is to remedy outstanding issues, grow the district while reducing the debt burden on ratepayers.

Potential projects include the blowhole repair and Nuhaka-Opoutama Road strengthening and protection, healthy homes upgrades for Wairoa’s pensioner housing, establishment of a mortuary waste system, library and digital hub refurbishment, a playground at Tuai, development of the relocation of the i-Site, improvements to the Riverside Camping Ground and development of Māhia recreational spaces.

The funding carries eligibility criteria around prioritisation factors and wellbeing assessment as well as strict timelines with the funding needing to be spent by June 30, 2027.

A list of back up projects may also be considered in case any of the other projects cannot be completed.

The back up projects are $400,000 for an extension, predominantly for storage, at the Wairoa Community Centre, a Powdrell Park subdivision feasibility study, and a water park at Alexandra Park.

The biggest ticket item is the repair to the blowhole and strengthening and protecting the existing Nuhaka/Opoutama Road.

This project was cost at $8.4m in 2020, following a Provincial Growth Fund funded business case which identified strengthening and protecting the existing Nuhaka-Opoutama road, which includes the Blowhole dropout, as the best way forward.

Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) has committed to 75% of this project, and if approved, the better off funding would be used as Council’s share, being the additional 25%, to complete the project.

Design plans for the work are complete and being verified, and Council has been working with Kiwirail which has agreed to move the rail line inland at the blowhole site to allow the road to be shifted over. Final costings of this project will need to be updated.

19 August 2022

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