What is Auckland Council consulting with me about?
Auckland Council wants to know if you’re supportive of an arrangement with the Government to share the costs of Auckland’s recovery, including buying some homes where the risk of further flooding and landslips poses an intolerable risk to life.
Why am I being consulted on this matter?
The proposed funding package is large – around $2 billion. To agree to the deal, Auckland Council needs to commit to funding around $900 million. We want to understand what Aucklanders think about the proposed package.
Why is the consultation period shorter than usual?
We need to move quickly so that we can provide certainty to affected communities. The Severe Weather Emergency Legislation Act 2023 set a period of two weeks for storm recovery consultations, so we’re aligning with that.
Will the consultation be a binding vote, or does the council decide?
Auckland Council will ultimately decide whether to agree to the proposed funding package. Any feedback received from the community will be taken into account as part of that decision.
What if the outcome of the consultation is that the community don’t want Auckland Council to pay for the voluntary residential property purchase scheme using ratepayer funds?
This is an all-or-nothing funding package, we can’t select which elements we would like to accept. To get the full benefit of the Government’s investment in Auckland’s recovery and resilience programmes, we need to fund 50% of the cost of purchasing Category 3 homes.
What’s the total package for Auckland’s storm recovery?
The total cost for Auckland’s recovery from the severe weather events of January and February 2023 is estimated to be around $4 billion. This cost will be spread across all Aucklanders, including individuals, businesses, the council, and the insurance industry.
The funding package discussed in this consultation deals with $2 billion expenditure. This is made up of around $1.1. billion funding from the Government, and around $900 million of funding from Auckland Council.
What tangible improvements will Auckland see from this investment?
Transport network recovery: $390 million for repairs to roads and bridges from the two weather events earlier this year.
Making Space for Water and other resilience projects: $820 million for resilience projects, including the flood risk management projects identified in the Making Space for Water programme
Category 3 voluntary residential property purchases: $774 million to buy category 3 homes where the risk from future flooding or landslips is intolerably high, and interventions at a property or community level are not practical or affordable.
Can we expect a buy-out offer for any homes affected in future storms?
The response that is being proposed in this funding package is a one-off, made necessary by the urgent and extraordinary scale of the 2023 weather events. It does not set a precedent for future events.
As climate change increases the risk of severe weather events, Auckland Council will not be in a position to continue to buy out other flood- and slip-affected homes. We are strongly advocating to central government to establish a national scheme to support recovery from future events, and to put in place better processes for managed retreat in advance of disaster.
What is being proposed to prevent this happening again?
We can’t prevent future weather events, but the proposed mitigation programme will help lessen the impact of storms on people by adding or improving flood-mitigation infrastructure in communities where flooding happens, and by removing the most vulnerable homes so people aren’t living in harm’s way.
Why does Auckland Council need to buy the category 3 properties?
The Government’s risk categorisation framework identifies homes where the future risk to life is too high to have people living there and there isn't a practical solution to reduce the risk. As part of the agreement with cost-share arrangement with the Government, local council
’s in storm affected areas will buy the properties from the owners so people can’t live in those homes.
Who decides the categories for affected properties?
Auckland Council will decide the category, based on a detailed risk
s assessment which is undertaken by flood or geotechnical engineers. These decisions are made in line with the government's risk categorisation framework.
Does the voluntary residential property purchase scheme include those who have insurance on their home and land?
Government and council contributions are intended to ‘top up’ rather than replace any amounts received through private insurance or EQC. We still need to decide how this would work in practice.
We also need to determine a fair outcome for homeowners and Aucklanders who will have to fund buy-outs. This will mean we need to consider if Aucklanders who had no insurance or limited insurance should receive more, less or the same as other category 3 homeowners.
Are any financial/banking options being considered to enable impacted owners to move on, e.g. preferential loan rates, equity exceptions etc?
At this stage, beyond the voluntary offer, there is no intention to be providing alternative funding arrangements to property owners.
What happens to category 3 property owners if the council chooses not to accept the funding package?
It is uncertain what would happen. The council would most likely reflect on feedback from the community and then have further conversations with the Government.
This is a voluntary purchase process – what happens if owners don’t want to sell?
This will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The objective of the buyout process is to remove people from living in places where there is a high risk to life so we would work with the property owner in this situation.
What will this do to my rates, in the short, medium and long term?
This will be debt-funded in the first instance, but we will need to decide on methods to fund the repayments over time. This could be through the deferral of other projects, sale of assets, service reductions, and rates.
The financial information in the Storm Recovery and Resilience consultation suggested higher rates rises. What’s changed?
The Making Space for Water budget, discussed in the earlier consultation, was prepared before the council and the government agreed this funding offer. The document noted that, if the council had to fund all the flood management solutions itself, it could translate to an 8 per cent general rates rise for the average property, in addition to increases already forecast from next year.
Government co-funding of resilience projects will reduce the costs to ratepayers.