Rates – I’m going to jump right into this subject, because many of you are asking about it.
A lot of businesses are hurting especially in sectors which have essentially been closed for the Lockdown. Sadly that means a lot of people have lost their jobs or had hours reduced. Many people are looking to the City Council to make some big moves to respond to the pandemic, and to soften the economic blow for local businesses and ratepayers.
We absolutely get that, and we’re working on doing exactly that.
I’m meeting with my councillors, Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow and her senior management team tomorrow. We’ll discuss the financial issues facing the city and the Council. We will provide councillors with a lot of background information about what other Councils are signalling, as well as impacts on Council’s own revenue. The sums involved are very large.
We know Councils around the country are facing similar financial pressures as we are – and we’re talking at political and senior management level with other big councils.
We will discuss the potential for deferral of the next rates bill due in June.
We will discuss the our approach to the 2020/21 rates.
We will discuss councillors willingness to alter expenditure and service levels and / or debt fund operating expenditure.
We will discuss a ‘pandemic package’.
We will discuss Government’s request to bring forward capital projects to help reboot the economy.
We will also look at the way we handle the Annual Plan process.
We will look at what spending changes could mean for big projects like Te Ngakau Civic Square, the Central Library, and our various infrastructure obligations – notably our three-waters network.
We will look at potential ‘shovel-ready’ projects to help if the local economy needs ‘pump-priming’ in the coming year.
This issue is being debated at a national level. Immediately after tomorrow’s workshop, I’m meeting with the region’s mayors and CEOs about infrastructure investment – it’s all about keeping people working.
We will be formally agreeing our approach at a Council meeting next Thursday.
Finally, and on a different note, tonight at midnight marks just one week since we entered the lockdown. That means we’ve got another three weeks to go – in the best case scenario.
It’s been a strange seven days, with some sad moments, some surreal moments, but also plenty of surprising and uplifting moments.
Like me, I’m sure you’ve been seeing amazing examples of kindness, respect, patience and aroha on a daily basis.
Everyone I am seeing is doing the right things, staying home, exercising locally, keeping physical separation. There’s a real sense of togetherness in this.
I am hearing some people though don’t appear to be taking it seriously and there are places where people are congregating. Please, please don’t do that. We are having to look at closing at least one more popular location which would be a shame, but we just have to keep separation. Covid is highly contagious.
We want to stamp it out in New Zealand now. That way we save lives, and can get out of Lockdown earlier rather than later. We also reduce the impact on our economy and our standard of living.
So thanks again Wellington – you’ve been absolutely, positively awesome.
Stay safe, stay connected, stay home, and stay strong – kia kaha.
I’ll be back tomorrow with another update.