25 March 2020
Rotorua Lakes Council will align its COVID-19 response with the Government’s three-pronged strategy to fight the virus, cushion the impact and position for recovery and will develop assistance packages targeted at those most impacted.
At today’s [Wednesday 25 March 2020] extraordinary Full Council meeting, elected members were asked for direction on the desired scope of Council’s COVID-19 pandemic response. They agreed in principle that Council should adopt the Government’s strategy and implement an approach to fight the virus, cushion the economic and social impacts and position the Rotorua district for recovery.
Mayor Steve Chadwick said a targeted approach was the right one because the impact of COVID-19 would not be evenly felt across the community and it would be important to support those most in need.
“If we don’t look at equity we will do the greatest harm to those most in need,” she said.
Council passed the following recommendation:
That the Council adopt in principle the Government’s COVID-19 strategy and commence work on the development of a Rotorua Lakes Council approach. That the Rotorua Lakes Council approach be based upon:
- Protecting our people and our community
- Cushion economic and social impacts
- Position our district for recover
Intended outcomes of Council’s response:
- Mitigate infection spread;
- Continuity of essential services;
- Mitigate social and economic impacts;
- Maintain workforce capability;
- Maximize speed of economic recovery.
Council Chief Executive Geoff Williams said packages needed to be put together urgently and the intention was to get a paper prepared for elected members’ consideration next week. A virtual meeting would be arranged for elected members to consider and debate the paper.
Mr Williams said the organisation would not be able to do everything and Council would need to consider to what degree they wanted to respond to those most in need and how that would be funded.
Key proposed elements for cushioning the impact and positioning the district for recovery will include partnering with Central Government and its agencies, providing information and advice to businesses, developing and providing rating relief packages, prudently bringing forward capital work and supporting work deployment initiatives. Completing and implementing the Rotorua Housing Strategy will be another key element of the recovery and Council will need to consider maintaining the capability of its workforce to enable services to be reinstated immediately when allowed to support rapid local economic recovery and minimise the impact.
Council Chief Financial Officer Thomas Collé said the organisation has secured funding and currently has about $14m cash on hand, borrowing capacity of $25m and is in the process of increasing its facilities with its bank should that be needed. He said the organisation was in constant discussion with the Local Government Funding Agency to communicate the organisation’s funding needs and was reforecasting its financials to ascertain what actions needed to be taken to continue funding the organisation.
Go to p22 of the agenda to see the full report on this
View the presentation slides relating to this item HERE on Council’s website
Other decisions . . .
An item relating to the CE recruitment process which was required under the Local Government Act was considered in confidential.
Following the meeting Mayor Chadwick confirmed the re-appointment of incumbent Geoff Williams.
Find out more HERE
Standing Orders amended
The first item on yesterday’s meeting agenda was a proposal to amend Council’s Standing Orders to enable elected members to attend committee or council meetings by audio or audio-visual link.
The proposed amendment was passed, enabling Mayor Chadwick and Councillor Reynold Macpherson to join and participate in the meeting via video link.
They did not take part in the item seeking amendment to Standing Orders but were able to participate following that resolution.
Go to p6 of the meeting agenda to view the full report on this item
Delegations during Alert Level 4
Council approved the delegation of decision-making to the Chief Executive during the period of the COVID-19 Alert Level 4.
It was explained that while Standing Orders allowed for elected members to meet via audio or audio-visual link, the Local Government Act currently still required a quorum to be physically present and as this would not be possible during the Alert Level 4 period, elected members would not be able to adopt decisions.
Delegating decision-making authority would enable decisions to be made and immediately enacted. Virtual meetings of the elected members would be held to discuss any key decisions that would need to be made during this period to seek their input and endorsement, Mr Williams said.
The delegations were similar to those utilised during pre-election periods and delegating to CEs was something other councils were also doing.
Go to p18 of the meeting agenda to view the full report on this item
The Full Council meeting was recorded and you can view the recording HERE