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I wanted to start by saying it is no secret that we're in the poo.
As a country economically, and in Auckland and Wellington's case, quite literally in the poo as aging infrastructure fails and stormwater and sewage pipes collapse. Right now, Auckland city engineers are battling to deal with a tennis court sized sinkhole and sewage flowing into Waitemata Harbour. The third sinkhole they've had to deal with in as many months and there will be many, many more to come.
There needs to be a major investment in infrastructure right around the country. One of the reasons, of course, why the Government came up with the ill-fated Three Waters plan. There's nothing sexy about pipes and engineering projects that happen under the ground. But it's even less sexy having sewage bubbling up into your home and worse, into the harbour.
But that means we have to pay for it. And councils right around the country are sharpening their pencils, looking at ways they can get blood out of a stone. Nobody wants services cut. Nobody wants rates increases.
But nobody wants sewerage in the harbour either.
The West Coast Regional Council approved a nearly 17% general rates rise during a midyear meeting, but for some households the increase is likely to be 100% increase, with ratings for flood protection schemes in the combined district plan.
And sure, the rates aren't as high as they might be in other cities or towns, but that's why you're living in Greymouth. You've chosen to live there. You've chosen to stay there if you were born there because you like the region, and you like the fact that its houses aren't going to cost you as much, rates aren't going to cost you as much, You’re not going to have as much taken out of the money coming in.
So going from $25 a fortnight to $50 a fortnight might not sound a lot, but it still means you have to find the extra.
Aucklanders have been warned the starting point for rates is 13%, and water bills could rise by more than 20%. Mayor Wayne Brown says the funding mechanisms for the Council are simply unsustainable and has called for a return of GST on rates, rates to be paid on crown properties (seems fair), and a nationally funded solution to managed retreat.
Because under the $2 billion cost sharing flood buyout scheme, where more than 700 homes that are uninhabitable are going to be bought, the Council still has to find nearly $900 million.
So in a cost-of-living crisis for all of us, households are in crisis, councils are in crisis, the Government is in crisis.
We're in for a tough couple of years.
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