Economic recovery response

At the 16 April 2020 Extraordinary Meeting, Elected Members voted unanimously to endorse the 10-Point Economic Recovery Response, including the actions identified to support those in hardship in the community.

The response includes help for those in need, support for those companies that supply Council with materials and services, and carefully targeted budget and cost-cutting to ease the burden in the short-term, while preserving our ability to deliver on our mid to long-term vision for Whangārei.

Initiatives in the response

1. Reviewing our planned rates increase

After reviewing the planned rates increase, and consulting with the community, Council reduced the planned rates rise to inflation-only. More information is available in the Annual Plan:

Annual Plan 2020-21

2. Operational budget review

Councillors asked staff to review all budgets to see what savings can be made. Staff are also being asked to identify any new ways to reduce the rates burden on ratepayers without reducing service levels, and to seek targeted ways to assist people in these difficult times.

3. Support for those struggling to pay rates, fees and charges

We are offering support via payment plans, and advice about where to go for more financial help, to people who are struggling to pay Council rates, fees and charges.

We will also continue promotion of the Government’s existing Rates Rebate Scheme.

Did you know you could get up to $655 off your rates bill? Ratepayers who own their own home, they are living in on the 1st of July and have a low income, may be eligible for a government rates rebate on their rates bill. 

Please phone us for support and/or more information:

09 430 4200 or 0800 932 463.

4. Community support

We connected with our essential services providers to ensure support for our more vulnerable older people, and continued our work on community safety.

Our Community Development team also worked through community funding to ensure community groups remain supported.

5. More frequent payments to Council suppliers

Where possible, we increased the frequency of our supplier payment runs. The aim was to provide faster payments to suppliers to help with their cashflow.

6. Rent relief for commercial and community tenants

As a result of the lockdown, many of Council’s tenants have had no access to their premises.

We worked through options for providing relief where we could, depending on the kind of lease. Some leases allow for a fair portion of rent relief associated with the tenant’s ability to operate and produce an income.

Where leases do not already include provision for relief, we considered requests on a case-by-case basis.

7. Support for businesses

We partnered with Northland Inc and NorthChamber to support the provision of on-the-ground practical support for small and medium businesses, as well as regularly publishing information on where local businesses can seek support and advice.

8. Boosting Council’s capital programme to help the recovery

We are investigating whether parts of Whangarei’s capital works programme can be brought forward or increased to stimulate business and create jobs in response to potential government funding for any ‘shovel ready’ projects.

Alongside this, we are looking to bring forward any projects that will play a key part in Whangarei’s economic recovery (where access to contractors who are available to deliver the work allows).

9. Emergency response

Council is a key contributor to Northland’s Civil Defence Emergency Management response, which is providing local support to the national emergency in Whangarei District and the wider Northland area.

10. Forward planning starts now

We are considering the mid to long-term impact of COVID-19 on infrastructure needs, the hospitality and tourism sectors, and district and community development.

Council policies, programmes of works, and the way we can add value to our community will be worked through carefully to ensure the best outcome for our District.

Our CBD is one area where we will be focusing in the future – we’ll be looking for paradigm shifting ideas to explore ways we can ensure our city is a fantastic place to visit, shop, work, eat, live and play.

All of our forward planning will be reflected in our Long Term Plan, which outlines the vision of the District for the next 10 years.