Councils sign off on ratepayer share of Greymouth floodwall deal

2:36 pm on 14 October 2020

Greymouth residents who already pay for flood protection will see their rates rise next year to strengthen the town's floodwalls.

Aerial view of the Grey River mouth

The Grey river in Greymouth. Photo: 123rf

The combined committee of Grey District and Regional councillors has voted to accept the government's offer to fund 75 percent of the long-delayed second stage of the floodwall project.

The deal is conditional on community co-funding for the remaining $650,000 and the regional council, which pitched the project to the government, must sign off on it by 26 October.

The council will borrow to fund the ratepayers' share at 1.5 percent interest and repay the loan over 20 years from the rates.

The cost to property owners works out at an extra $6.07 per every $100,000 of capital value, the council has stated.

That will mean an additional $18 a year for a medium value Greymouth house.

Ratepayers in the old borough boundaries currently pay $29 per $100,000 of CV for the original floodwall loan plus $16 per $100,000 of CV for maintenance.

With the new borrowing, the owner of a $300,000 house will see the flood protection component of their rates bill go up from about $120 to $150.

At its annual meeting yesterday, the Greymouth Joint Floodwall Committee agreed in principle to a proposal that the regional council should take over the ownership and insurance responsibilities for the town's floodwalls.

Currently, the Grey District Council owns the infrastructure and the regional council is responsible for maintenance.

The floodwalls were built in the early 1990s for about $5 million but now had a replacement value of $15.4m, finance manager Robert Mallinson said.

While they were insured by the Grey District Council, in the event of a catastrophic flood it was not absolutely certain the council would be able to give priority to a floodwall rebuild.

If the regional council was in charge of insuring the floodwalls, it would better align with its responsibilities for maintenance, repair and structural integrity, Mallinson said.

The Greymouth floodwall project is one of four being managed by the West Coast Regional Council, after the government approved funding of $24m for "shovel ready" infrastructure proposals on the coast.

Ratepayers were not consulted on the co-funding proposal this time around because the plan to raise the crest of the walls was consulted on and approved 10 years ago, the council has said.

The co-funding of the regional council's flood protection projects in Hokitika, Buller and South Westland had received more than 60 percent support, operations manager Randall Beal said.

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