Source: Whangarei District Council
Updated: 1/05/2020 4:17 p.m.
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai has announced Council is to ask the community if it agrees to a smaller rate increase than previously flagged and for a fund to be targeted at community support for a post-COVID-19 restart.
The proposal was debated at the first live-streamed Council meeting on Thursday (30 April) and forms the backbone of the 2020-21 Draft Annual Plan, which goes out for 3 weeks of public consultation, starting 15 May.
“We considered four different scenarios and looked at the sacrifices and benefits of each option over the short, medium and long term. The options included whether it was better to go for a no rates increase, which would see future ratepayers facing larger rates increases, or continue with the 4.2% rates increase that had been proposed for year three of our 2018-28 Long Term Plan,” she said.
“Ultimately we decided to seek feedback on a lesser rate increase of 2.2% which will enable Council to continue providing and maintaining the services and assets we use daily. Now, we want your feedback on the proposal.
“On 15 May we will present a draft Annual Plan consultation document that details the outcomes of the option favoured by most elected members. It will also outline the other options that were considered.”
Mayor Mai said it was important to remember how different the global landscape was when the Long Term Plan was established after consultation in 2018, and how everything changed on 25 March.
“When we first prepared our budget and work programme for 2020-2021 the plan was to increase our revenue to continue building the assets our rapidly growing District needs, like roads, water and wastewater systems, and parks and reserves.
“COVID-19 changed that – we see the pain our community is experiencing. People need immediate help, but also assurance that life will go on, and improve after this crisis.
“Council is committed to continuing capital works projects to help stimulate local businesses and create jobs as well as utilise potential government funding for projects that are ‘shovel ready’.
“I support this change because I believe it will help reduce some of the short-term pain for our wider community while continuing to provide long-lasting benefits for future ratepayers.”