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Zero General Rates Rise And Flexibility Focus For Regional Council

Bay of Plenty Regional Council met today to shift its focus from business as usual to essential services that will support communities through the coming weeks. It has now set an Emergency Committee in place; to allow swift decision-making and delegated responsibility in response to these extraordinary times.

There was also a unanimous resolution from Regional Councillors to work towards a zero percent general rates increase in the 2020/21 financial year. Council expects to make final decisions on its Annual Plan 2020/21 and set rates for 2020/21 at its Council meeting scheduled for 25 June.

Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder acknowledged the ‘fundamentally changed’ national picture and emphasised the organisation’s continuing role in providing essential services to the community.

“The direction to keep general rates increases at zero percent gives certainty to people in the Bay of Plenty, and helps to relieve the pressure that some territorial local authorities in our region are facing when looking at setting rates in this unprecedented time.

“There are some big decisions we’ll need to make later in the year when we can get back to business-as-usual. We have the capacity to use our reserve funding and we recognise that some projects will now be delayed due to COVID-19. There will also be some matters to work through such as how we fund some big infrastructure projects like stage six of the Rangitāiki Floodway works,” Chairman Leeder said.

Council also suspended core committees and established its Emergency Committee with a membership of three councillors and a quorum of two.

“It’s important that Regional Council is able to respond swiftly and this committee will allow us to do so. We have also extended the delegated authority to the Chief Executive, to allow further flexibility in our ability to respond,” Chairman Leeder said.

Other changes outlined in the meeting related to community consultation on core council activities.

Council resolved to continue with consultation on the Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws 2020 Statement of Proposal.

“These bylaws are a core function and will continue to be a focus for us, even as our communities are in Alert Level Four. In parts of our region, the bylaws are key to ensuring the safety of our communities. People will continue to be consulted to ensure these bylaws can be approved later this year.

“However, we are acutely aware that our communities will have different matters on their minds over the coming weeks and months, so we have made the decision not to consult on our Annual Plan, but to ramp-up our consultation later in the year on our Long Term Plan 2021-2031.

“We still need our communities on board to steer our direction and decision-making on the big questions like climate change and public transport. But the Local Government Act gives us flexibility about how we do this, so we’ll take the opportunity to consult deeply for our long term planning,” Chairman Leeder said.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s latest COVID-19 updates including essential services and virtual contact information can be found at www.boprc.govt.nz/COVID-19.

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