Masterton District Council has voted to enter the Government’s Future of Severely Affected Land (FOSAL) voluntary buy-out programme for properties severely impacted by the North Island weather events in January and February.

Under the FOSAL funding arrangement, the Government and the Council will each contribute 50 per cent of the agreed cost of buying out properties after insurance, EQC, and any other payments have been deducted.

Masterton Mayor Gary Caffell said that it was a difficult decision for the Council to make and discussion held at the table was robust and well-considered by all involved, but he was pleased with the outcome.

“I can understand the concerns raised by some members of the community in our consultation on the issue, particularly around the idea of setting a moral precedent, but I am confident that this will not be the case. The Government created a programme that councils were invited to participate in, and this is possibly the only time Government will make this type of financial response available to impacted communities,” he said.

“I believe we have an obligation to this community, not only to help them get back on their feet but to ensure they can access the Government funding being offered.”

“These families are still very much picking up the pieces in getting their lives back together and knowing that this council decision will be a massive help in that respect is huge, both for council and the wider community.

“Having said that, there was a feeling around the council table that in future instances of this type, central government should be prepared to pick up the bill because councils simply don’t have the financial resources to continually dip into their ever-diminishing funds.”

Following the decision, the Wairarapa Recovery Office will work with the Council to confirm policy around how individual properties will be treated, and will continue its conversations with the impacted property owners to confirm provisional categorisations and next steps in the voluntary buyout process.

The estimated maximum cost to the Council to be $2.5 million, including the cost of buying land and/or dwellings on the impacted properties and any subsequent building demolition or removal that is required.

The estimated rating impact of the Council decision for the 2024/25 year would be an increase of 0.75 per cent, equating to an extra $26 per year for a median value urban residential property.