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Central Hawke’s Bay District Council Launching into its Economic Recovery Plan

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With the announcing of its economic recovery plan last month, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is turning this into a reality with a proactive approach to providing relief for residents, both now and into the future.

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Alex Walker, says with the impacts of Covid-19 and the drought continuing to bite, the Council is very aware its communities are hurting right now, and that for some, this is only the beginning.

“We have a robust and long term approach to recovery but we are very much focussed on the ‘now’ and what we can do immediately to soften the blow for our residents’,” she says.

Chief Executive of the District Council, Monique Davidson, says of the Council’s approach “We are offering full refunds to anyone who wishes to cancel a building or resource consent application that was lodged prior to 24 March 2020.”

The Council is also supporting key suppliers’ cash flow by moving from a monthly to a weekly cycle of invoice payments.

“This, we hope, will support suppliers’ in meeting their payroll obligations so they can retain the maximum number of staff.

“We want to see as many people remaining in their jobs throughout this period as possible.”

Further efforts to offer financial reprieve are being implemented via a revised draft annual plan.

“We will employ a number of initiatives to ensure the annual rates increase is kept as low as possible for 2020/21 financial year.

“The Council is exploring every avenue with regards to how it can soften the blow through the application of its rates payment policies, but in doing so we must ensure service levels aren’t compromised.”

Mayor Walker says there are various options for those in need, such as a new policy allowing the postponement of rates payments in situations of genuine hardship, and that anyone who is struggling should reach out to Council.

“We understand it’s a very tough time for many and that each situation is unique.

“We are committed to a proactive and lenient approach with regards to rate payment policies – we just need ratepayers to get in touch with Council Officers, so we can assess their individual needs and support them through a plan.”

Central Hawke’s Bay lines company, Centralines’, has brought forward its winter rebate for this year, which will provide a further source of financial relief for residents’.

Ms Davidson says the Council is pleased to see the District banding together to support its recovery.

“Our close working relationship with Centralines’ will continue throughout this period, in the form of a joint Central Hawke’s Bay Recovery Task Force.

“This will serve as a means for developing and supporting community/industry led projects, which will contribute significantly to stimulating and, in turn, recovering our local economy.”

Council is already initiating business activity and fostering local employment in other ways by bringing forward part of the District’s capital works programme.

“Our recent decision to award $35 million worth of Land Transport contracts over the next two to five years is an example of this,” says Ms Davidson.

The Council’s 18 point recovery plan spans three phases: Phase I looks at the immediate term, which is all about survival; Phase II covers the short to mid-term plan, which focusses on emerging from lock-down and restarting the local economy; Phase III is the long-term strategy and a path back to a thriving economy.

Ms Walker says in continuing to support its communities during the acute impacts being felt right now, Council will also maintain an eye on the long term strategy.

“Building our economy back up is going to be a marathon effort, not a sprint and we believe our detailed recovery plan will ensure we are successful in finding our way back to that thriving District we all know and love.”

She says Council will ensure it remains positioned to lead the District through the full period of recovery.

“We will learn and adapt as we go, and together we will navigate this new post-Covid world, and in a manner that sees Central Hawke’s Bay continue to thrive.

“Our community is incredibly resilient and supportive which means that together we will face the challenges and come out the other side as stronger people, whānau, community and businesses.

You can read the full Economic Recovery Plan here: https://www.chbdc.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/002209-Economic-Recovery-Doc-aR.pdf

26 August 2020

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