Central Hawke’s Bay residents and businesses are set to get some reprieve from rates following a decision by the District Council today to endorse the amendment of the draft annual plan and reduce the planned 2020/21 annual rates increase from what was intended to be 5.2% down to 3.8%.
Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker, says this will be a welcome relief for the district in the midst of the ongoing drought and COVID-19 pandemic but is also clear that council is committed to targeting their support so that between council and government packages, there is relief for all those that need it.
“Whether you are a farmer enduring the drought, or a business owner/employee unable to work due to the current shut down, we understand the losses in income are causing you significant financial hardship and we are there to help in many different ways.”
She says in making decisions today it was vitally important to strike the right balance between offering some immediate term relief for those currently affected, without significantly burdening future generations.
Council Officers proposed four different rates options for councillors to consider at today’s Central Hawke’s Bay District Council meeting held via video conference, and after robust discussion and deliberation it was decided to remove $150,000 from a proposed wastewater rates reserve, loan fund the existing District Plan work a period of 15 years rather than the current 10 years, and request the Chief Executive find a further operational savings of $100,000 in order to fund the reduction in rates increase.
“Whilst we have a duty of care to provide emergency welfare support and deliver essential services at a time like this, we also need to ensure we remain positioned to trigger economic recovery and growth on the other side of these challenging times.”
“We are being challenged to make some short term decisions about relief and recovery from the pandemic, but right now it is almost impossible to predict what those decisions will have in the long term. We have come too far over the last few years to rush into decision that may undermine the good work so strongly founded on our community vision of a thriving Central Hawke’s Bay”
The increase in rates proposed for the 2020/21 year prior to the drought and COVID-19 was driven by various factors, including increases in compliance costs across the Three Waters increases in insurance premiums, and increased impacts of Central Government policies such as the Carbon Credit Policy and Waste Levies.
“The people of Central Hawke’s Bay can rest assured we are exploring every possible option to provide relief, as well as support the district in continuing to thrive, even in the face of such adversity and will continue to, right up until we legally are required to strike next year’s rates.”
The 2020/2021 Annual Plan is legally required to be adopted no later than 30 June 2020.
Council will continue to monitor the evolving situation of COVID-19, and before formally adopting the 2020/2021 Annual Plan, Council will further test its financial assumptions to confirm no further amendments are required.
9 April 2020
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