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Multi-million Dollar Revenue Drop And Rates Rises Slashed In NPDC’s Proposed Yearly Budget

Cutting proposed rates increases by almost half while managing a projected $5.4 million drop in income are the next steps in NPDC’s Get Us Back on Our Feet plan to help households and businesses hit by the Covid-19 economic storm.

Five rates options for a revamped yearly budget will be considered at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 5 May and average residential rates are forecast to go up by just 2.54%, with a total rates rise of 3.95%, if the recommended option is approved. Before the state of emergency, the Annual Plan was forecasting an average residential rates rise of 4.75% and a 6.47% increase in total.

At the meeting, the Mayor and councillors will consider a range of other initiatives to include in the proposed Get Us Back on Our Feet package, worth about $20 million.

The council has already approved an $8 million rates relief package and worked with the Council Controlled Organisation Venture Taranaki to provide financial support to small and medium businesses via the Professional Services Grant for Small-Medium Enterprises programme.

Further initiatives being looked at in the Get Us Back on Our Feet package include:

· A plan to “Buy local” by choosing local contractors for council jobs.

· Ramping up and expanding the home insulation loan scheme, providing much-needed work for tradies to make residents’ houses warmer and greener, worth an estimated $7.5m.

· Slashing and dropping a range of fees for businesses. For hairdressers, cafes, restaurants, and property developers at an estimated cost of $1.3m.

· Making an extra $450k available to grassroots groups faster. This will allow them to keep supporting our most vulnerable during an unprecedented health and economic shock.

· A $50k package helping shopping building owners improve their buildings around the District.

· A short-term $2.6 million loan to the New Plymouth airport company Papa Rererangi i Puketapu Ltd.

· A reduction in commercial and community rents of around $90,000.

Mayor Neil Holdom says:

“In six short weeks the world has changed and we know many of our residents and businesses are hurting because of the massive economic downturn,” he says. “We’re proposing to reduce rates rises for the average residential ratepayer to 2.5%, after working hard to revise our yearly budget, while also managing a forecasted $5.4m drop in revenue from closed facilities like pools, Puke Ariki, TSB Showplace, TSB Bowl of Brooklands, TSB Stadium and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.”

“We think this draft budget strikes a fair balance between helping our people, boosting the local economy while ensuring we continue to deliver critical services. We’re looking to largely debt fund this Get Us Back on our Feet plan because if it was rates funded, it would result in an almost 12% rates rise,” says Mayor Holdom.

NPDC has also submitted nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of shovel ready projects for the Government to consider as part of its spending on big-ticket projects to kick-start the New Zealand economy. This includes $321m to upgrade the District’s Three Waters network, $108m on improving roads and bridges, $37m on an eco-friendly hydrogen-powered thermal dryer at the wastewater treatment plant and $13.6m to continue work on the Taranaki Traverse walk.

The total proposed operating budget for the next year is about $175 million, spread across 16 different business units that make up NPDC.

Next steps

· Mayor and Councillors will discuss the revised yearly budget at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 5 May.

· Public feedback from May 12 to May 26.

· Final budget for 1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021 will be approved by the end of June.

© Scoop Media

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