And will get initial decisions announced Sunday in HB by PM Hipkins and Finance/Recovery Minister Robertson.

Our five councils have sent their initial recovery plans and funding requests to Government.

For the four territorial authorities, these take the form of ‘Locality Plans’, while the HBRC version is called the ‘Regional Resilience Plan’.

The total funding need sent to Government totals well over $3 billion for the region — a bit over $2 billion for HDC, $800 million for HBRC, $78 million for NCC, $80 million in the first year for CHB (around $230 million over three years), and $66 million for Wairoa (first year, much more longer term).

Hopefully the beancounters at the HB Regional Recovery Agency have sorted the apples and oranges here, as the councils are not entirely clear and consistent about their spending time frames in some cases.

As I noted last week in ‘Get the real dirt’, the plans are online: here is NCC’shere is HDC’shere is Wairoa’shere is CHBDC’s, and HBRC’s (plan narrative here, funding request here).

These have become the new ‘standards of reference’ describing in considerable detail area-by-area the extent of damage and disruption caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. If you really want to know what’s going on and contemplated post-cyclone, best read your favourite council’s plan. All will be updated before the year is out.

When the plans move from reporting ‘current status’ to describing what must be done now to recover, especially in the near term, the content, while robust in terms of describing needed activities and projects, becomes a bit mushy regarding costs involved, for two reasons.

First, reflecting the short time frame in which this impressive work needed to be completed (plans were submitted mid-April to the Regional Recovery Agency).

Second, reflecting the irresistible bureaucratic and political urge of all councils to throw heaps of projects into the mix that have been on the ‘wish list’ for years and now suddenly have heightened ‘must do now’ urgency and/or are embellished under the guise of cyclone recovery. 

This is especially true of some of the very expensive infrastructure spends around asset maintenance, wastewater and stormwater that should have been happening before and regardless of the cyclone, but also includes myriad small projects that just never quite made the cut list in normal times, or were already set to occur (e.g., lots of models and strategies being refreshed), or just got a bit of padding.

As a taxpayer, one hopes that the Regional Recovery Agency separated the wheat from the chaff before simply rubber stamping the plans to Government. [Of course, that would assume the RRA was staffed for the purpose.]

On the other hand, as a local ratepayer, one might hope that the rest of NZ might shoulder part of our recovery cost … the more the better, so throw everything including the kitchen sink into the ‘ask’.

The outcome of this money shell game will become known as soon as Sunday when Government leaders are scheduled to land in Hawke’s Bay to announce a least some of their funding decisions.


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