Earthquake cash welcomed

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Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray says residents are still dealing with significant issues.

By DAVID HILL

Kaikoura is to receive a $5million boost to help with ongoing earthquake recovery work, after last week’s Budget announcement.

The Government has set aside $5.3 million over the next two years to help with repairing infrastructure, further work on the Kaikoura harbour, natural hazards remediation work, and a cash boost for the Kaikoura District Council.

Mayor Winston Gray says he welcomes the government’s ongoing support.

“This funding includes $2.2 million over two years to help with the costs of repair and rebuild work for Kaikoura’s drinking water, storm water and wastewater systems, and $300,000 to assist with funding the final repairs for our harbour.

“It will also help the council work toward becoming financially sustainable and provide a partial contribution towards helping us manage our significant natural hazard life safety risks.

“We’re really pleased to see the government’s ongoing commitment to support for our council and the people of Kaikoura,” he says.

“Both council and our residents are still dealing with significant and ongoing issues from the earthquake and all government assistance is appreciated.”

The November 2016 earthquake caused significant risks to some properties and infrastructure from natural hazards. Without assistance, the council is not in a financial position to provide help to landowners, Mr Gray says.

Since the earthquake, the council has been working closely with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the Earthquake Commission, Environment Canterbury, geologists and scientists to support landowners to work through their natural hazard and land-damage issues and to plan for future land use.

“We’ve already set aside $155,000 over the next three years to seek advice and support to develop options for affected property owners,” Mr Gray says.

“We’re now looking forward to working with government agencies to understand, with the combined funds we have, what support may be able to be offered to property owners most affected by the earthquakes.”

Despite government support, ratepayers can still expect a hefty rates rise to back work described in the Long Term Plan, which is out for consultation.

Residents have been given three options: either a 28 percent average across the district for one year, 17% a year for two years or 10% per year for four years, with 17% being the council’s preferred option.

Mr Gray says the recently completed consultation meetings received a positive response from the community.

“We fully get it.

This is a challenge,” he says, “but there has been a major event and we’ve got to get on with it and get our town and district back ahead of where we were.”

The extra rates burden at 17% will vary from around $3 a week extra for lower value rural residential properties, $6-8 a week for urban residential properties, to $40 a week for large, high capital value rural properties.