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Council signals a lower than forecast rates increase

council building

In recognition of the financial impact of COVID-19 on the community, Hastings District Council has signalled a lower than forecast increase in budgeted rates revenue for the coming year.

At a meeting on Thursday next week the council will vote to adopt a 1.9 per cent increase in budgeted rate revenue for consultation with the community, a reduction from the Long Term Plan forecast increase of 4.4 per cent.

The 1.9 per cent increase excludes the impact of changing to a new refuse and recycling service, and has been achieved through re-budgeting and achieving cost efficiencies and savings.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says the council knows that this year is going to be a particularly challenging one for the community.

“We understand that COVID-19 and the drought are having an impact on businesses and that there will be job losses.

“Although we don’t know the full extent of this yet it’s important that we are being responsive, and at the same time continue to deliver a high level of service and invest in projects to support the local economy and jobs going forward.”

She said this investment for the 2020/2021 financial year includes a capital expenditure programme of about $100 million to stimulate the economy.  

Council has also developed a new procurement strategy and policy that targets council spending with local businesses to provide local employment and training opportunities – at the same time as achieving the best value for money for ratepayers.

As well as making operational costs savings where they can be achieved, the forecast increase in the targeted water rate to fund the council’s drinking water strategy, which remains a priority, has been able to be reduced.

Another budgeting initiative is to redirect the proceeds of asset sales, such as the council’s Orchard Rd works depot, into a contingency fund to cover potential additional COVID-19 and other as yet unforseen costs.

“This event is having an enormous impact and we are very aware of the pressures and strains it is putting on businesses and families,” says Mrs Hazlehurst.

“By reducing the rating requirement we hope this will ease some of the financial pressures, at the same time as ensuring we are continuing to enable and support economic development for our future wellbeing and security.”

If adopted on Thursday, this proposed reduced increase in budgeted rates revenue will go out to community consultation, before being considered by council again in June when it adopts the 2020/2021 draft annual plan.

1 May 2020

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