Hastings District will be the main beneficiary of a significant Cyclone recovery Crown funding agreement on the table with Hawke’s Bay councils, pending the outcome of consultation with the community.
In a series of meetings this week, councils deliberated the global offer, which would require all five of the region’s councils to accept the terms before the offer can be finalised, with some councils required to consult before signing their agreement.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the $556m deal for the region, which included flood protection scheme enhancements, roading and bridge repairs, and funding for the purchase of residential properties or residential property rights would have significant benefits for Hastings.
“This offer is a critical step towards giving our most impacted communities the ability to make decisions about their future. We know this process has taken time, but it is vital we get it right. This process will ultimately determine areas we no longer deem safe to live, will have intergenerational impacts and has the safety of our community at its heart.”
While the terms of the agreement for Hastings District Council included a co-funding commitment of up to $92.5m for Category 3 residential property settlements, Government has also agreed to contribute $197m for urgent bridge and roading repairs, and funding for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to invest $140m in projects across Hastings District, bringing the total potential value up to around $430m of Crown funding for projects in Hastings District.
“This cyclone was absolutely devastating for our region – not only the personal loss and trauma our community experienced, but the damage to our infrastructure was also immense. We had 18 bridges destroyed and another 28 significantly damaged along with 600 culverts, over 1,000 slips to clear and over 100km of roads to rebuild, leaving us with an $800m repair bill.”
Mrs Hazlehurst said that while the Government was clear from the outset that the costs for settlement of potentially up to around 300 residential properties in Category 3 would be split 50/50 between the Government and councils, she was pleased the Crown recognised the financial burden this would place on Hastings District Council and offset the Council’s contribution (capped at $50m) through additional investment in roading and bridges.
Further funding support for future roading and bridge repairs was still on the table and would be explored as Council progressed through its extensive programme of work.
“While the buyout cost-share offer would otherwise increase our recovery bill, the Crown funding for critical roading and bridges offsets this obligation, leaving us in a fiscally neutral position and unlocking numerous benefits for our district.
“Our economy, particularly through our primary sector, relies on an efficient roading network. Even if the cyclone didn’t directly hit them, they have endured months of challenges to get trucks and tankers into farms or get produce to market due to the severe damage to our roading infrastructure. This funding will get our economy moving quicker than we could have achieved without this support.
“The $140m of enhancements to flood protection schemes by the Regional Council will reduce the cost of the property settlements by providing flood protection to some homes in areas that would otherwise be classed as Category 3. It also increases resilience and business confidence for producers and commercial operations located in these areas, which are highly productive due to their alluvial soils.”
Due to councils being required to undertake the property negotiations and settlements, which is a new function, both Hastings District and Napier City Councils are required to consult on the change in mandate. Consultation is expected to commence later this month.
Consultation on the rating impact of the full recovery costs would occur through the Long-Term Plan process in early 2024.
4 August 2023
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