Covid-19 - Wellington Mayor's Update For 7 April
Kia ora Wellington,
First up, I want to tell you about an excellent new initiative we’ve started to help Wellingtonians find support and essential services during the lockdown.
Today we launched a new Support Services Map – you’ll find it on our website.
It’s an online, interactive map, and directory showing Wellingtonians exactly where you can find all the key services in your neighbourhood.
That includes things like pharmacies and supermarkets, but also local volunteer groups, social services and food banks – all with full contact details for each organisation.
It’s really easy to use, packed full of key information, and we’ll update it regularly throughout the lockdown period.
Another great new initiative is a new dedicated Emergency Welfare Team.
This team is for people who need urgent assistance and advice, and it will quickly connect people with the services they need.
It’s really great to see groups like the Student Volunteer Army and community food organisations helping others, going above and beyond when needed.
Many of our agencies are working together as well, and when you see just how many services there are on the new map, all supporting Wellingtonians, it really makes me proud to be a part of this city.
Remember, we are all in this together, and help is never far away.
Next, I’ve spoken before about this Thursday’s Council meeting, where we will discuss our immediate financial responses to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Capital City.
The meeting papers went onto the Council website yesterday, and I urge you to go online and examine the initiatives proposed.
Our top priority is to minimise any impacts Council rates and charges have on businesses and residents who have lost some or all their income at this unprecedented time.
The proposals include a six-month rates holiday, plus the adoption of a Pandemic Response Plan - it has a wide range of initiatives to soften the financial blow of the lockdown.
There are also three possible rates increases for the 2020/21 financial year – either a 4.8 percent rise; a 2 percent, rise; or a zero increase.
Council management have recommended the 4.8 percent rates increase, accompanied by significant ‘rainy day’ Council borrowing to cover expected major revenue shortfalls from things like parking, the closure of our pools and venues, and the likely loss of the Wellington Airport dividend.
I’m aware that some people are anxious that we look for lower increases.
But I’ve also had strong feedback that we need to look to the future and not overburden future generations.
The papers are also clear that a rates deferral has far greater benefit for ratepayers in terms of cash flow than changes in the normal headline rates number.
Personally I think we also need to undertake some intelligent review of expenditure over the next month and a bit.
Again, all of the information is set out in the papers for Thursday’s meeting, so please read them and look closely at the implications of the proposal yourselves.
Finally, tomorrow at midnight will mark two weeks since we started our lockdown journey. You’re doing fantastically.
We’ve heard of some people not doing what they’re supposed to, but the vast majority of you are doing a brilliant job - following the official advice, staying home, staying local when exercising, and staying connected despite our physical distance.
And that’s not to mention the kindness, respect and aroha on display I see across the city every single day.
Keep it up Wellington, you should all be very proud of yourselves.