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Funding opens up options

Some Tīnui landowners who appeared to have little choice but to enter a voluntary buyout programme after their dwellings and properties were put through the wringer by Cyclone Gabrielle in February last year have been granted an alternative option after Emergency Management and Recovery Minister Mark Mitchell announced $8 million in funding for five flood resilience projects in the region on Wednesday.

As previously reported, $4.8 million of that money has been allocated to Masterton District Council [MDC] to go toward helping Tīnui homeowners relocate their dwellings to safer locations within their property boundaries.

“Owners accepting the dwelling relocation option would not enter the Future of Severely Affected Land [FOSAL] programme”, an MDC spokesperson said.

On December 13, MDC agreed to enter the FOSAL voluntary buyout programme for nine properties with a total of 12 dwellings in the Tīnui area that are situated on category 3 land – meaning they are not safe to live in due to flood risk.

The initial estimated maximum cost to the council of participating in FOSAL was up to $2.5 million from loan funding – resulting in an estimated 0.75 per cent increase in MDC rates for the 2024/25 financial year.

Under the FOSAL arrangement, the government and MDC would each contribute 50 per cent of the agreed buying cost after EQC, and any other payments had been deducted.

Not all of the nine Tīnui landowners in the category 3 area will be able to access the relocation programme, and an MDC spokesperson has confirmed the FOSAL programme is “currently underway”.

Wednesday’s funding announcement also included $1.3 million allocated to improving the sewer resilience on Masterton’s Cockburn St and Colombo Rd.

About 20 homes in the area have been impacted for years by raw, untreated sewage flowing onto their properties during severe weather events, with council-provided Portaloos being used as a stopgap measure.

Solutions to the issue were finally “completed under urgency” shortly before Christmas last year using alternative funding before the council learned of the outcome of its funding bid.

“This successful bid will offset those costs and bolster our long-term work programme to provide a permanent solution to the issue,” said a council spokesperson, who also noted there is one additional property that is on neither Cockburn St or Colombo Rd “where conversations and analysis about a suitable solution are ongoing”.

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