Upper Hutt City Council Formally Adopts Measures To Ease COVID-19 Impact
On 9 April, Upper Hutt City Council discussed multiple measures aimed at bringing relief to residents and businesses in light of the COVID-19 lockdown and its financial impacts and provided direction on 12 measures. Some of these required further work by staff and were presented for consideration at Council’s extraordinary meeting held yesterday. The meeting discussed a range of topics but resolved in reference to the COVID-19 situation, the items below (the full agenda for this meeting is available online at upperhuttcity.com).
Annual Plan for 2020 – 2021:
In March this year, Council had planned on a rates requirement increase of 4.68% which was in line with its Long Term Plan 2018 – 2028. At its discussions on 9 April, Council provided clear direction about reducing the rates increase to 1.5%, which would effectively keep it below inflation. Council officers provided detailed reports and modelling at the Council meeting yesterday and, after discussing options, elected members resolved to go with a 1.5% increase.
In keeping with its intent of supporting the community through the impacts of COVID-19, Council also resolved to establish a ‘Recovery Fund’ of $1,000,000 in its budget for the 2020 – 2021 year. The purpose of the fund is to boost social, cultural, economic, and environmental wellbeing.
Council is achieving these measures through the use of accumulated funds, reduced debt repayments, and reduced spending. We’re expecting some reduction in service levels, but are being cautious to keep this temporary. We’re taking prudent approach on the basis that the COVID-19 pandemic has not left us immune to other potential threats, such as a large earthquake or significant flooding event and that there will be a lot for Council to do in the future to help and support our community.
“With our economic environment continuing to change, it’s important that we respond in a way that is going to assist our communities and businesses,” says Upper Hutt Mayor, Wayne Guppy. “Although we’re tightening our belts to achieve these savings, I’m confident that Upper Hutt will pull through this situation—thriving and stronger and more resilient than before.”
Council’s proposals for the Annual Plan 2020 – 2021 including these measures will be made available from 13 May with final adoption in late June. You will hear more from us on this in the near future.
Fees and charges for 2020 – 2021
Council also resolved to keep most fees in line with 2019 - 2020 fees and charges with no increases. However there are some new fees introduced in 2020 – 2021.
Council agreed to rates postponement options for the April 2020 and August 2020 installments. Business and residential ratepayers can contact Council’s rates team to discuss details.