22 Jan 2024

'Tipping point' for several councils as double-digit rates rises loom

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 22 January 2024
Work being done on a broken pipe in Wellington CBD which led to a water outage for at least 100 properties in the area.

Contractors fix a pipe in Wellington Photo: RNZ / Krystal Gibbens

Tough decisions lie ahead for councils up and down the country, some of which are facing rates rises in the double digits unless they tighten their belts. 

Several councils are citing pressure to upgrade water infrastructure, a responsibility which - for now - stays with them, after Three Waters was repealed by the new Government.

Local Government New Zealand president Sam Broughton is calling for urgent reform to the way councils are funded, saying councils are at "tipping point" as they look to firm up long-term plans over the coming months.

Last year, Buller District Council mayor Jamie Cleine warned a 31.8 percent rates rise could be on the cards, in large part due to the need to upgrade the water network.

The Council has since figured out how to get that down to a 20-25 percent ballpark, but Jamie Cleine says they've had to defer several projects to get there. Sam Broughton and Jamie Cleine speak with Kathryn Ryan.