Funding approved for projects District-wide
The Gore District Council yesterday voted to apply for the Government's Better Off Support Package's first tranche of funding of $2.28 million.
The Council voted to fund projects recommended by a working party involving the Hokonui Runanga, staff and elected members.
These six projects are:
- Maruawai Centre $1.2 million
- Hamilton Park Enhancing Cycling and Pedestrian Safety $200,000
- Cultural Artworks for Library and James Cumming Community Centre $50,000
- Upgrade of Waikaka Valley Windmill $150,000
- Tulloch Park Stage Two Recreation Hub $500,000
- Proposed Mataura Medical Hub $180,000
The Government announced the Better Off Support Package last year to assist councils in the transition of Three Waters reform.
The individual allocations to councils were assessed based on population (70%), deprivation index (20%) and land area (5%). In the case of the Gore District, a total sum of $9.153 million has been set aside.
In May, the Council agreed to establish a working party to identify and develop project proposals that fit the funding criteria.
Applications for the first tranche of funding had to be submitted by the end of September. The second tranche of funding will be available in 2024.
The criteria for projects were:
- Supporting communities to transition to a sustainable and low emissions economy, including by building resilience to climate change and natural hazards.
- Delivery of infrastructure and/or services that enable housing development and growth, focusing on brownfields and infill development opportunities where those are available.
- Delivery of infrastructure and/or services that support local placemaking and improvements in community wellbeing.
The funding proposals needed to set out key information, including proposed projects, milestones and expected completion dates. It will also need to provide a wellbeing assessment and outline Iwi/Māori engagement.
Chief Executive Stephen Parry said the working party met three times and discussed, at length, projects that could fall into the first or second tranches of funding.
Each project identified in phase one was subject to individual scoring within a template provided by the Department of Internal Affairs.
“The entire process, from when we first received notification of the funding to receiving the scoring template and liaising with the DIA, was quite compressed.
“Ideally, the Council would have preferred to carry out meaningful community engagement. Unfortunately, the short timeline meant this wasn't possible.
"We will have more time to consider projects for phase two and will definitely be seeking community input."
With its high degree of iwi engagement and community consultation, combined with the positive impacts on social and cultural wellbeing, the Maruawai Centre stood out head and shoulders above other projects in its total score, he said.
"This has been reflected in the amount of funding allocated to this particular project."
The decision to accept the support package does not mean the Council has changed its stance on the Government's 3 Water Reform model. It will continue to lobby for a national referendum.
The reasons for this week's decision were:
- The funds will be able to be used to progress projects already in our plans at a lower cost to ratepayers - particularly at a time when cost pressures, such as inflation, are incredibly high.
- Refusing to apply for the funding may limit options for the incoming Council around the second tranche of funding.
- The Council is unaware of other councils that have not accepted the support package, including those vehemently opposed to the reforms.