This page contains a column written by Mayor Sheryl Mai about still being at COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and how Council has been able to carry on.
24/04/2020 7:21 p.m.
The questions we had all been pondering at Council over the past weeks have been, when will we be coming out of lockdown, how will we come out of lockdown, and what will we be able to do once out.
For Council much of what we do has been able to carry on, some of it behind the scenes.
Water, while under its own restrictions because of the drought, has continued to flow. Waste and recycling have continued to be picked up and processed. Our wastewater system has continued functioning efficiently.
Traffic lights have continued operating. Urgent road repairs have been done when needed. Parking has been free.
Decision making processes for the future will continue through our strategic, district and annual planning.
Community services, including grants, help for vulnerable people through Civil Defence has continued.
These systems, facilities, assets and processes have enabled our District to flourish in the past, and they will continue to do so, although now, the way they aid recovery, healing, rehabilitation and restoration must be the focus.
On a very practical level, during the lockdown, we also have continued processing building consents as they have come in, even though our inspectors have not been able to inspect projects that are under way, and resource consent applications have continued to be processed, up to the point where site visits are required.
As soon as we can we will be rescheduling the 40 building inspections put on hold during lockdown, and making those site visits for resource consents.
At the same time, we have been combing our lists of projects to ensure we were able to put in a comprehensive list of capital works projects for government stimulus funding, to get local contractors back up and running, working on as many projects as we can as soon as they are able.
This pandemic came at a time when our District was gaining ground economically. Our population had blossomed, if not exploded.
While that brought with it more work and costs, it also brought more revenue to cover these as more businesses started up, more people started earning and spending in the district, and as the rating base expanded through property development. The snowball was growing.
COVID-19 has caused us all to pause and consider the future, some fleetingly and others in great depth. Some from their own personal perspective, others from that of their businesses and communities.
I think we all know that things will be very hard for people across the world, across the nation, and throughout our region and our District in coming months and years.
But the future is not completely bleak in my view.
We need to continue to do the work we have started, planning what the future of our District will be. Big changes are coming, but I expect they will roll out over a longer period.
In the meantime, we have work to be going on with.
Our District has lower rates per capita than most districts in New Zealand, less debt than most, lower staffing levels. At the same time, our district has enormous beauty, resources, creativity and is very down to earth and practical.
We have always operated on the basis that we need to make the most of what we have, and the need to tailor what we have to what we and our community can afford.
That outlook has got us where we were before the pandemic, will sustain us during it, and support us in the aftermath.