Working For Our Community To Support Carterton’s Future
Carterton District Council’s management team and elected members have been actively working for their community during lockdown to ensure Carterton residents and businesses get the support they need.
The council acknowledged in a letter to ratepayers in April that paying rates at this time may be challenging for some. Flexible payment arrangements have been made available and the council encourages anyone having difficulties to contact its rates officers to discuss a payment plan. The council is waiving late payment penalty fees for rates accounts where payment arrangements have been made.
The council has also been re-thinking the 2020/2021 Annual Plan in the light of the significant changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on us all. The draft Annual Plan prior to the Alert Level 4 lockdown contained no new activities, so finding savings has been challenging. The draft plan contained a rates increase of 4 per cent, which the council is actively working to lower through options such using cash reserves and short term borrowing to reduce the need for activities to be funded through rates. We’re also looking at whether savings can be made anywhere else, although existing budgets are already tight. The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan set out a rates increase of 2 per cent for the 2020/2021 Annual Plan, and we anticipate the actions we are taking will enable us to deliver a plan as close to this number as possible. We have ensured that all these measures to reduce a rates increase in the 2020/21 year will not cause further increases in the following years.
We’re also actively working with other councils, agencies and sector groups to ensure Carterton residents have the support they need in place during this response period, and to start putting in place measure and plans to support Wairarapa’s recovery. Funding opportunities are being sought for Carterton and Wairarapa projects through funds being set up by Central Government, including making bids into the Shovel Ready Projects programme.
We are working with Hurunui-o-Rangi marae and Ko Wairarapa Tēnei as we establish what post-COVID-19 recovery will look like in our region. We are also continuously discussing our options to maximise our regional economic recovery with the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy group.
Our councillors are keeping in touch with local businesses to make sure they know what’s happening at the ground level and to assist where they can. Our council staff have been working directly with Carterton hospitality and food businesses to support them to open as quickly as possible. The council has also set up a page on its website where residents can find easy tips on how to support our Carterton businesses which are already operating under level 3, as well as providing essential links for businesses needing support, advice or access to rebate schemes. This is in addition to last week’s announcement that Chief Executive Jane Davis is giving 10 per cent of her salary for the next year to a grant fund that will be available for small Carterton businesses to help them through the COVID-19 recovery.
Councillors are also receiving briefings from economists and others to understand the current situation and to start identifying what will be needed for Wairarapa to recover. We are hopeful the end result will see us in a better place than we were in before COVID-19.
The council encourages anyone struggling to pay their rates account to please contact our rates officers on 06 379 4030. Any businesses needing support are able to contact our councillors, whose contact details can be found at https://cdc.govt.nz/your-council/your-mayor-and-councillors/
Anyone who needs access to essential items such as food and medicine can contact the Wairarapa COVID-19 helpline on 0800 239 247.