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Council signals zero rate rise due to COVID-19

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Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillors have signalled a zero rates increase to the community.

At the Regional Council meeting yesterday, Councillors sought urgent advice from Chief Executive James Palmer on the issue.

Chair Rex Graham says the Council is aware there is a lot of financial pain in the region due to Covid-19, the drought and Bovine TB.

“We want to postpone our planned rate increase and need to find ways to do this and still deliver on our 2020-21 Annual Plan,” he says.

“It is an incredibly difficult time for many people in the region, and we are committed to doing everything in our powers to get the region through the series of crisis we are in. This is just a beginning of a series of initiatives that we are developing.”

Chief Executive James Palmer also outlined the essential services that are being maintained during the lock down period.

These include:
• Contributing to Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management response
• Flood management and response capability
• Maintaining pump stations and flood and drainage infrastructure
• Maintaining pollution and oil response capability for urgent cases
• Habourmaster functions
• Biosecurity functions
• Resource Management Act functions including resource consents (these are currently being reviewed at a national and regional level)
• Contributing to an Economic Response Unit for the region
• Maintaining regional parks and cycle ways for exercise with appropriate social distancing but toilets won’t be open, and access to river areas will be limited

The Council delegated the chief executive the authority to make urgent decisions in specified situations during the COVID-19 pandemic and while the Government’s alert levels make meetings of Council impractical.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances, the Council also unanimously agreed to consolidate all committee meetings into a weekly Council meeting to be held by video for the next four weeks.

The Regional Council offices are closed but staff are available via phone, email and facebook. Please visit our website www.hbrc.govt.nz and search #contactus, phone 06 835 9200 or email info@hbrc.govt.nz

 

26 March 2020

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