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Emergency Committee Established For Swift Decision-making, Zero Per Cent Rates Increase Signalled

An emergency meeting of Waikato Regional Council this evening agreed a process to enable swift decision-making in light of the Government’s announcement to impose alert levels 3 and 4 in the COVID-19 response.

Councillors also agreed to strive for a zero per cent rates increase in the 2020/21 financial year.

“There are tough times ahead for the people of our region, indeed the people of New Zealand. We need to be in tune with our tightening economy and the challenges our people are going to be facing across the Waikato,” chair Russ Rimmington said.

“It’s also important the regional council is able to respond swiftly,” Cr Rimmington said. “We’ve shown that we can tonight, and indeed are likely to be the first council in the country to move as quickly.”

Rather than holding formal meetings, urgent Waikato Regional Council decisions will be made by an emergency committee comprising chair Russ Rimmington, the chair of the relevant committee and chief executive Vaughan Payne by consensus.

The decision is in line with guidance from Local Government New Zealand.

“The Government has made the right decision for the safety of New Zealanders. It’s now very important that as a council we implement a plan that enables our organisation to continue providing essential services, because there are jobs we do that have an impact on people’s lives,” said Cr Rimmington.

A full review of the council’s services is already underway.

“You might wonder why councillors can’t continue to meet virtually. Quite simply, legislation requires councillors to be physically present to constitute a quorum. If legislation is changed there could be a move to electronic meetings instead of using the urgent decision-making delegations,” he said.

Councillors agreed during the meeting to lobby government to push forward with legislation changes to enable fully virtual meetings. In the meantime, staff would continue working on ways to enable that to better happen.

The emergency committee and delegations will be reviewed as soon as reasonably possible should such a legislative change to quorum requirements be made.

© Scoop Media

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