Mayor Phil Goff rejected an accusation that he is ‘selling out’ on the controversial Three Waters reforms by accepting funding for the reforms.
At an Extraordinary Meeting of the Governing Body earlier this month, the decision to accept funding as part of the reform process was challenged by Cr Tracy Mulholland.
The ‘better-off’ funding from Central Government is designed to help councils transfer water assets under the Three Waters reform.
Cr Mulholland said if Council accepts the funds, it indicates it accept the principles of where the money came from.
“It still appears to me that it is a done-deal, and we have no choice,” Mulholland said.
Mayor Goff said Council did not have to change its view on Three Waters in order to accept the money.
“You take whatever funding you can get from government for the sake of this city but do not sell your soul for it. We have not sold out,” Goff said. “With or without our support, it will happen. We can use it on behalf of our people.”
Cr Linda Cooper said that there appear to be questions around the morality of accepting the money.
“I am not sure how many people know this, but Watercare and Healthy Waters have been required to do a considerable amount of unpaid work for the Department of Internal Affairs,” Cooper said.
She said that the better-off funding could compensate for that unpaid labour.
Goff responded that $5 million would make for “a really good hourly rate”.
The support package from government sets aside $500 million to lessen the financial impacts of the reforms for councils.