0% general rates rise proposed



12 May 2020

A 0% general rates rise is being considered for Rotorua Lakes Council’s 2020/21 annual plan as part of a focus on continuing to cushion the impact of COVID-19 and support the district’s recovery.

A proposed annual plan presented to elected members yesterday [Monday 11 May] also includes ongoing rates relief.

As part of investing in recovery, it is proposed Council establishes a $29m fund for partnership projects that focus on employment and stimulate the economy. It is envisaged some of these could include projects that emerge from the business sector groups set up to develop strategies as part of Rotorua’s Build Back Better economic recovery plan.

Meanwhile, a $1m fund is proposed to support community initiatives driven by the likes of community groups, clubs and not-for-profit organisations.

Additional networks and costs for essential services like sewage, water and waste will require a total average targeted rates increase of 4.7%.

Mayor Steve Chadwick says the proposed plan recognises and responds to the challenges faced by Council and Rotorua and provides flexibility to address new challenges and opportunities that may emerge.

“People are hurting and will need new and ongoing support and assistance, from Council as well as Government. Our annual plan needs to recognise that and will focus on our commitment to cushion the impact of COVID-19 and implement the Build Back Better economic recovery strategy we have adopted.”

Annual Plan guiding strategies (click on the image to view larger version)

Annual Plan summary (click on the image to view larger version)

Considerations for the annual plan have included the need to maintain organisational capacity to respond to new and emerging challenges in the face of uncertainty while continuing to fund renewals and maintain assets, protect Council’s ability to provide essential services, continue to upgrade infrastructure and provide needed services and support. Council has estimated a shortfall in of about $4.5m as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and proposes prudent use of debt to cover operational shortfalls.

Yesterday was the fifth and final forum held to provide direction into development of the plan for the next financial year. The forum was attended by the mayor and councillors and by the chairs and members of the rural and lakes community boards and Te Tatau o Te Arawa chair.

Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, who chaired yesterday’s forum as chair of the Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee, says given the urgency of the need to respond to COVID-19, elected members agreed to release an early indication of what is being proposed.

“We wanted to give the community an indication before then of what we’re considering for the coming year so they can understand the thinking behind the plan and the decisions we need to make.”

Council’s Strategy Group Manager Jean-Paul Gaston and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Collé presented the annual plan proposals to elected members yesterday. Their presentation provided background to the development of the annual plan, along with key proposals, and the video of the presentation can be viewed HERE.

Next steps

1. Proposed annual plan community consultation document goes to Full Council for approval (19 May)

2. Community consultation and engagement (21 May to 17 June)

3. Decision-making recommendations made and proposed to Council, based on feedback (30 June)

4. Annual Plan adoption and setting of rates (late 9 July)

You’ll find more information about what’s proposed and how you can have a say at www.rotorualakescouncil.nz when details are finalised.

Page reviewed: 12 May 2020 12:45pm