Ratepayer money spent on meth testing


More than $326,000 of ratepayer money has been spent on methamphetamine contamination in social housing units.

But while the Government’s Gluckman report revealed there is no evidence of harm from contamination, the city council is continuing to test for the drug.

City council head of facilities, property and planning Bruce Rendall said at the start of the 2017-18 financial year, 12 social housing units were closed for contamination after testing for methamphetamine began in mid-2016.

A further 18 were closed during the year.

“Twenty three of these units were remediated or decontaminated during the year, with the remainder in early 2018-19,” Mr Rendall said.

The total cost was $326,472.

“We fully expect with the recent guidance on risk from the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser (the Gluckman report) that the number of units closed and the costs will decrease,” Mr Rendall said.

Following the release of the report in May, the city council reopened all but one unit that had been closed.

However, the assisted housing annual report said as an interim measure the city council has continued an approach where it tests for methamphetamine at a change of tenancy or before major works.

“If methamphetamine is found, units are washed before being returned to service. This approach aims to provide assurance to tenants, particularly during this period where community understanding needs to be reset and the relevant New Zealand Standard is under review (as signalled by the Minister for Housing Phil Twyford), while still avoiding the costs of full remediation,” the report said.

A unit will still be closed and cleaned if there is a suspicion that the unit has been used for methamphetamine manufacturing, it said.