This page contains a news story about the outcome of the consultation on the Annual Plan, and the decision of the elected Council to reduce the planned rates-rise to 2.2 per cent.
13/07/2020 3:23 p.m.
Whangarei District Council has agreed to reduce its rates rise to 2.2% this year, and will go ahead with the COVID-19 relief package.
Council made the decision on 9 July 2020, having considered public submissions on its 2020-21 Annual Plan.
WDC Chief Executive Rob Forlong said 94 of the 122 valid submissions received responded to the questions about the rates rise and recovery package. Of those 94, 62% supported a rates increase of 2.2% or more, and broadly speaking, 81% supported the recovery package. Submitters also supported Council’s bids to source extra funding from Central Government.
Submitters who sought funding for specific projects or support because of the effects of COVID-19, could apply for funding from the Relief Package, or through Council’s other funding systems. Any that were not eligible for funding from those sources would be put forward for consideration during the 2021-31 Long Term Plan (LTP).
Mr Forlong said Council had not intended to consult on an Annual Plan for 2020-21, instead, to continue with the plan for Year Three of the 2018-2028 LTP. Taking that path would have required no public consultation.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown it became clear that many businesses, communities and individuals in our District would suffer hardship in the months to come and during the economic and social recovery from the pandemic.
“At that point, an Annual Plan Consultation Document was produced that proposed we reduce the 4.2% rates increase forecast and approved for 2020-21 during 2018’s Long Term Plan consultation, down to the Local Government Cost Index (LGCI) figure of 2.2%.
“The consultation document also included a proposed $3 million relief package to be made available to a range of sectors from businesses to community groups, funded by cutting staff costs and operational funding.
“Two matters to consider are that the 2.2% increase is the same as inflation, so it is not really an increase in our spending power over last year.
By coincidence, the figure it will generate is roughly the same as the sum being allocated to the recovery package. In the end, ratepayers are paying a bit less than was proposed before Covid-19 and that money will be going back into the community to help us all get up and running again.” Mr Forlong said Council also acknowledged the combined effect that months of drought and COVID-19 was placing on Hikurangi Swamp Scheme farmers.