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Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains information about livesteaming the 30 April 2020 Council Meeting which is to decide on the way forward for the COVID-19 recovery response and what this means for rates.

Updated: 29/04/2020 4:14 p.m.

Whangarei Councillors are to meet to decide on the way forward for the COVID-19 recovery response and what this means for rates.

As normal face to face Council meetings can’t be held under Alert Level 3 the 30 April 2020 meeting will be livestreamed and members of the public are invited to watch.

The meeting will be broadcast live on the Council Facebook page from 9.00am:

Facebook Watch – WhangareiDC

Attendees can watch without having to sign up for Facebook. The meeting will also be recorded so those who are not able to watch it live can see it later.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai explains what’s on the agenda for the meeting:

“Council will meet to decide how to manage the COVID-19 reset, recovery and re-start in the coming financial year, which for us starts on 1 July. To do this, we have pulled together an outlook for our District and the impacts on our industries and communities in a Covid Response Strategy.

This strategy will be useful to those in business wanting some insight into how the economy may progress, how different sectors are expected to fare, and the consequences for our community over a range of timeframes.

It identifies the different sectors that contribute funding to our community and what each can expect as spending slows and then picks up, as exports and imports tighten up and then ease again, as employment falls and starts to rise again.

It projects that all the markers of growth in the district will take a sharp dive this coming year, and then slowly grow back over the next five or so years to our current position.

We have applied this knowledge to decisions we have to make in our role as a council, and the decisions we have to make about the projects, funding and spending we do on behalf of the community:

  • We provide the underpinnings that keep a healthy society going, the nuts and bolts of transport, water supply, waste water, rubbish collection and management.
  • We are responsible for ensuring that when development goes ahead, its impacts on the environment are considered and managed.
  • We are responsible for ensuring that the buildings that go up in our district are safe for people to live in.

This work has a cost, and every one of us pays a share, either through the fees we pay for services, or thorough our rates.

If we aren’t ratepayers then we are paying our share through the costs landlords and businesses are recouping through their rent or charges.

The rates that people pay to Council also get apportioned out to clubs, community projects, community organisations, to help run and maintain facilities from community halls, to sporting facilities, to supply common spaces where events are held, and to help fund the events themselves.

It really is a good system that ensures that when we all pool our resources and contribute a bit to Council to organise the work, we can achieve much more than if each one of us were responsible for building and paying for our own small strip of footpath, length of sewer pipe, rubbish pick up, stretch of road, traffic lights, bridges – you name it.

But, here is where it gets hard. When the community takes a big hit, like we are now with COVID-19, it does not earn as much money, and does not have as much to contribute, and Councils have to look at whether people can pay as much as before.

That is why Covid Response Strategy is very useful to us. It provides good information for us to consider when working through options for the coming financial year.

This year, prior to lockdown, our Council had decided to continue on with the schedule and rates that were agreed to in consultation with the public in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan.

Because we were sticking to that plan, which we had already consulted on, there was no need for further consultation.

If we had decided to change the plan, we would have been quite a long way through a consultation process already.

Then COVID happened and we faced a lot of big questions coming at us fast, requiring fast answers. One of the most important was whether or not there was going to be enough money in the community for rates to stay the same, or whether we needed to reduce them.

So tomorrow Council will meet to decide on a way forward.

We will be considering whether or not to increase rates only by inflation, and to cut costs where needed to keep our books balanced.

We will consider what public consultation will be undertaken and how, and the timeframes that will be allowed for that.”