Taupō District Council remains strongly opposed to the Government-led Three Waters reform.
At a workshop on Tuesday, councillors all agreed that they could not accept the way the reforms are being pushed through.
At present, each local council delivers the services, and the Water Services Entities Bill would transfer the water assets to one of four new entities. Taupō would be in Entity B which runs from Thames/Coromandel to Taranaki and encompasses 22 councils.
On June 2, the Government announced legislation that would enable creation of the new waters entities and now Three Waters is back in front of councils around New Zealand.
In September last year, the Taupō council asked for an immediate stop to the programme on the basis the community would lose an active voice in decision making, a lack of accountability, that the Government had underestimated the complexity of the transition, scarcity of information leading to the community being confused about the case for change and bad timing as the Government was also implementing the Future for Local Government project.
Nationwide criticism of the bill reformed it to place ownership in the hands of local authorities with one share being issued per 50,000 people or, as in Taupō's case, one share per district council.
At the workshop, councillor Anna Park questioned the fairness of allocating shares based on population, saying consideration should have been given to the level of investment by each council.
Programme manager Louise Chick lead the workshop, along with policy manager Nick Carroll.
"Shareholding doesn't mean a lot as by definition there is a balance sheet separation between territorial authorities and the new entity," Chick said.
Chief executive officer Gareth Green said the shareholding can't be called on.
"It's a smoke and mirrors thing, so the public can see we own the pipes."
The Water Services Entities Bill lays out a proposed governance structure by which a regional representative group appoints regional advisory panels and a Water Services Entity Board.
The councillors said there was a lack of information about how the proposed governance structure would affect the Taupō District.
Cr John Boddy said the Government appeared to be confused about what it was attempting to do, a comment reiterated by most of the councillors.
"We are just making assumptions, we don't know how it is going to work."
Cr Christine Rankin said the legislation was complicated, she struggled to understand it and wondered how members of the public were expected to achieve a depth of understanding to the level they could make a submission.
"No business in their right mind would create this structure. This is a nightmare that no one should have imposed on them."
Cr Kathy Guy said the bill is a complex nightmare.
"Who's paying for it? And what will be the impact on the community? It's embarrassing that we can't answer that."
Cr Kevin Taylor asked about consultation with hapū as the new bill calls for co-governance.
Policy manager Carroll said ideally the legislation would be in one part but it is so large the Government has bitten off chunks.
"They will write the second bill while rolling out the first bill. They are designing the plane while flying it."
Cr Kylie Leonard was concerned about the future of Taupō District staff who work on drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. Part of the proposal is for local staff to be seconded to the new entity, and this created uncertainty for these employees.
Programme manager Chick said local authorities were limited to providing advice to the Regional Advisory Panel, and there may be an opportunity to have a Taupō representative on the panel.
"We may be able to remove members from the Water Services Entity board. Lastly, we can respond to various documents. They must consult."
A key justification for the Three Waters reform is the ability to make massive savings by operating at scale.
Cr Kirsty Trueman said Entity B was too complex for each of the 22 councils to also be able to include their own local voice.
Taylor said the three-year election cycle and short-term political gains were incompatible with long-term investment in Three Waters infrastructure. He said change was required, but did not agree with the current model that is proposed as local councils were being kept "at arms length".
At the end of the workshop, Mayor David Trewavas said the council acknowledged the status quo is unsustainable and agreed change was necessary, but it opposed the model in its current form.
People can have their say on the ownership, governance and accountability arrangements of these new entities in the Water Services Entities Bill by making a Select Committee submission by Friday, July 22.