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Council Reduces Proposed Rates Increases For 2020/21

Council has agreed to reduce the proposed rates increase for 2020/21 in an effort to lessen the burden on ratepayers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz says Council acknowledges many households and businesses are facing hardship, and at yesterday’s extraordinary meeting, Councillors discussed options for supporting households in need now without over-burdening future ratepayers.

“We agreed to take the proposed rate increase down to 3.26 percent, to be in line with our Long Term Plan. That way we can still assure that essential maintenance and services are taken care of. We do not want to be in a situation in a few years’ time where we are caught out financially because of deferred maintenance.”

An overall rate increase of 0 percent had been considered but it was determined not to be prudent, or in the best interest of future ratepayers.

Council agreed on a number of measures to assist with the financial impacts, including increasing the budget for rates remissions by $1million.

Rates remissions will be made available to ratepayers and businesses who applied and qualified on grounds of hardship as a result of COVID-19.

Ratepayers can also apply for a six-month deferral period for instalment 4 of the 2019/20 rates.

Mayor Stoltz encouraged concerned residents to touch base with Council for a case-by-case assessment.

Chief financial officer Pauline Foreman said COVID-19 had already impacted on Council’s budget for the current year (2019/20) and was expected to have a significant impact on the 2020/21 Annual Plan.

Work is underway to identify cost savings and efficiency of operations across the entire organisation.

The options presented to Council today took into account an overall assessment of circumstances and ensuring the decision recognised the future impact of financial and non-financial consequences.

This approach has been emphasised by Local Government New Zealand and the Society of Local Government Managers, based on independent legal advice.

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