Questions and answers

1 Could other councils join the Shared Waters Management Company?

Yes, if the other shareholding councils, who were already involved, agreed.

2 Would a Shared Waters Management Company introduce residential water meters to Hamilton?

No. It could not force Hamilton City Council to install residential water meters. Hamilton City Council has decided that water meters are off the table.

3 Would ratepayers in Hamilton or Waipa still receive their rates bills or (in Waipa's case, water meter bills) from their council?

Yes. Individual councils would still be responsible for billing people for water and wastewater. That would not change.

4 Under a Shared Waters Management Company, would the cost of water and water infrastructure be combined and shared between the two councils.

No. Each council would continue to ONLY pay for the water it uses and for the cost of the services within its own boundaries. There would be no 'pooling' of water resources. The finances for each council would remain completely separate.

5 If customers had a water, stormwater or wastewater issue, who would they contact to sort it out?

Customers would be able to call either the Shared Waters Management Company or the councils; it would be up to them.

6 Will operational waters, stormwater or wastewaters staff at the councils be made redundant if a Shared Waters Management Company was formed?

No. Councils are already short of staff in this area. Should a company be formed, non-management waters staff would transfer to the SWMC on existing terms and conditions. The councils would work directly with managers on an individual basis.

7 Are there any other models comparable to a Shared Water Management Company in New Zealand?

Yes, Wellington Water is 100 per cent owned by five councils and manages drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services on behalf of those councils. It does not own the water assets; it simply manages them on behalf.

8 Could a council leave the Shared Waters Management Company if it didn't work out?

Yes, but exit arrangements would need to be fair to all councils involved.

9 Is the model being proposed still a CCO (Council-controlled Organisation)?

Yes, but it is not an asset-owning CCO. In a CCO one or more councils control 50 per cent or more of the voting rights, or have the right to appoint 50 per cent (or more) of the directors. In other words, councils ‘control’ the organisation.

Existing local CCOs include Hamilton Airport (jointly owned by Hamilton City, Waipa, Waikato, Matamata-Piako and Otorohanga District Councils) and the Local Authority Shared Services – LASS (jointly owned by 12 councils in the greater Waikato region).

10 Is this a step towards an asset-owning water company?

No. Both Hamilton City and Waipa District Councils do not support an asset-owning model.

11 Would this be a step towards privatisation?

Both councils want water assets to remain in public ownership.

12 How will work and funding be prioritised between the councils involved?

Just as they are now, final decisions on what to spend, when, will be made by the elected members at each council on behalf of their communities.

13 If a company was formed to run water, wastewater and stormwater services, what would the councils remain doing?

The councils would continue to do all the things they are currently responsible for. There would be no change to other services like roading, planning, building services, parks and gardens and community services.

14 How would each council ensure the work delivered by the Shared Waters Management Company meets the needs of each council?

Each council would have a contract with the Shared Waters Management Company which outlines what work is required, to what standard and at what cost. Just as it is now, it would be elected members who make those decisions and evaluate the company's performance.

15 Would the Shared Waters Management Company, or the individual councils, be responsible for complying with resource consents issued by Waikato Regional Council?

The councils will hold the resource consents for their own infrastructure. It will be the company's role to ensure resource consents are complied with.

16 How would a Shared Waters Management Company impact on existing waters staff at both councils?

Should a company be formed, non-management waters staff would transfer to the SWMC on existing terms and conditions. The councils would work directly with managers on an individual basis. Working in an organisation focused just on water issues, alongside a larger group of professional colleagues and peers, would provide better career paths and better professional development than what councils working independently can currently provide.

17 Could the Shared Waters Management Company run up as much debt as it liked?

No. The councils would control how much debt the company could incur through the Shareholders’ Forum. Each council would set and fund its own work programme so little debt would be required and only for assets such as software systems, vehicles and plant.

18 How would a Shared Waters Management Company change the councils’ existing commitments to Iwi?

It wouldn’t. A Shared Waters Management Company would not change, in any way, any existing council commitments. Nor would it change the councils’ commitment and support for the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River (Te Ture Whaimana o te Awa o Waikato).

19 Is this issue about ‘who owns the water?’

No. This is about the most efficient and effective way to provide day-to-day operations and management of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure; it has nothing to do with the ownership (or not) of water.

20 If a company was formed, what would it be called and where would it be based?

It is too early to say. No decision to form a company has been made and those issues have not been discussed.

21 How would a Shared Waters Management Company impact on rates?

The independent advice is that a Shared Waters Management Company would deliver cost-efficiencies for councils and their ratepayers. But these efficiencies are unlikely to come back to ratepayers as 'savings'. Instead they are likely to be reinvested back into the waters networks to meet the costs of growth and higher environmental and public health standards.

22 If a decision is made to form a company, when would it happen?

The earliest it would be formed would be mid-2019.

23 When do submissions on this issue close?

At 10am on Monday, November 27.

24 When will a final decision to whether or not form a Shared Waters Management Company be made?

After the people of Hamilton and Waipa have had their say. Final decisions are likely to be made before Christmas 2017 so they can be factored into each council's draft 10-Year Plan.

25 Can anybody go and hear the verbal submissions on this proposal?

Yes. They are public meetings and all are welcome. Verbal submissions will be held in the Waipa District Council Chambers in Gorst St, Te Awamutu, on Friday, December 1.

26 Who will hear the verbal submissions?

A joint panel made up of three elected Councillors from Waipa District Council and three elected Councillors from Hamilton City Council (including the Mayors from both councils). The panel will be chaired by an independent chairperson. Elected members from both councils have been invited to hear all submissions and will choose whether or not they wish to go.