Horowhenua District councillor Sam Jennings is calling for more time and a public referendum on one of the biggest decisions council has ever faced.
Councils across New Zealand have little more than a month now to get their heads around the Three Waters Reform, and provide feedback on the impacts and possible variations to the proposed reform package outlined by Government.
Jennings said that wasn't enough time. Councils were struggling to understand all the implications and accurately gauge public opinion on what was a huge and complex issue.
"The timelines are forcing us into a decision. There needs to be a meaningful consultation process and I would be uncomfortable making a decision without that, without mandate from the community," he said.
"There are still unanswered questions and I'm not sure we have all the answers. It's an uncomfortable place to be in."
Jennings said a referendum was needed for such a major decision. Councils had a legal and moral requirement to understand community views and consult with their communities - particularly on strategic asset purchases or disposals.
"It's too big an issue and too important for 11 councillors to make," he said.
Jennings said there hadn't been an opportunity to formally discuss and debate the pros and cons of reform.
"We've been forced to take it at face value. It's difficult to probe," he said.
"I don't feel I have all the information that would give me confidence to make any decisions, and even if I had, I believe it's a community decision."
Several councils across New Zealand have been vocal about the reform process and the lack of time provided to engage their communities with the necessary information.
In a press release from HDC, CEO David Clapperton said while there was agreement with the purpose of the reform - to ensure New Zealand's drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services and infrastructure were planned, maintained and delivered so that they are affordable and fit for purpose - there were still questions.
"What we need comfort in, is ensuring our district will not get overlooked in favour of those with more pressing needs. We are in a period of unprecedented growth, so we need assurances that we will not be disadvantaged if we opt into the reform programme," he said.
Horowhenua District Council mayor Bernie Wanden said as community representatives it was "paramount" that community concerns were heard and responded to.
"We know there are concerns around issues like water metering, additional charges and future privatisation. We want to make sure that our community has these concerns answered, feels well informed and understands the pros and cons of reform," he said.
HDC was working with councils around New Zealand to collate the necessary data to build a clear understanding of three waters services in their districts.
You can view Horowhenua District Council's dashboard on the Department of Internal Affairs website - https://www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-RfI#latest-update once in the dashboard, skip forward to page 5 and enter Horowhenua District Council in the search bar.
Or visit www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme for Government's latest three waters reform information.