Annual plan signed off
Our Annual Plan for 2020/21 was signed off this week with some adjustments to support business to get back to business and our communities to get back on their feet.
A proposed rates increase was cut from 5.4 per cent to 3.9 per cent, and water rates increases also dropped from 6 per cent to 3 per cent. However, planned capital projects were given the green light and will be brought forward where possible to help create jobs and keep the economy moving, using local businesses and contractors wherever possible.
We're taking action now
Mayor Toby Adams says the world has changed since Council drafted its initial annual plan and among other changes, expected operating cost savings, such as significantly lower inflation and interest, will be passed on to the community through a reduction in proposed rates rises.
“Some councils are going out with zero rates increases but all that does is shift the problem until a little bit later. There are a lot of unknowns, so our plan is to take action now to help address short term cash flow problems in our communities, and then we’ll look at options to help stimulate the economy in the longer term,” he said.
Keeping cash flowing
As well as fast-tracking some capital projects, we'll use local trade contractors seeking work on a short term basis, for specific work programmes, such as the upcoming replacement of water meters. To help keep cash flowing into the community, invoices will be paid early if requested, rather than waiting until the 20th of the month, and some money from our operational budgets and special funds will be reallocated towards assisting the community.
“It’s too early to know what the specific effects of the pandemic might be and where this money might be needed most, but some of our special funds, such as our ward community assistance funds, are in credit. This means there is the potential to target up to three quarters of a million dollars of this money to projects that help stimulate our local economy,” the Mayor said.
There are no plans to increase our fees and charges for the next year, including elderly housing rents, hall fees, dog registration and other regulatory fees. Clubs and community organisations using our facilities will be granted 12 month’s free rent. Various rates relief options have also been provided for those struggling to make payments.
“We know many of our ratepayers are under financial stress at the moment, so we’re offering options, including an extension of time for the May 2020 rates instalment. Please don’t hesitate to contact the rates team and have a chat about how we can help,” the Mayor said.
Looking to the future
We're working with Regional Economic Development Agency, Te Waka, and local town promotional organisations on marketing packages, such as “Love Hauraki” which encourages locals to support local businesses. Support for businesses to get online and connect with global markets is also on the table, along with a range of assistance products to help businesses weather the current storm.
Read more about support for businesses
The 2020/21 Annual Plan will be available to view on our website from Friday 8 May