30 June 2020
Rotorua Lakes Council’s proposed 2020/21 Annual Plan reflects the need to remain flexible and be able to adapt to emerging issues and opportunities resulting from the impact of COVID-19.
That was a key message for elected members at today’s [Tuesday 30 June] Strategy, Policy & Finance Committee meeting when they deliberated on the proposed Annual Plan following community consultation. The Committee is recommending that the Full Council adopt the Annual Plan as proposed, including amendments proposed today.
An initial 4.7% proposed rates increase for Rotorua ratepayers for 2020/21, made up solely of targeted rates, has been reduced to 4% as a result of a reduction in the targeted rate for sewage.
The proposed 2020/21 Annual Plan is underpinned by eight strategies that were adopted as part of Rotorua’s Build Back Better economic recovery framework and sets out actions aligned to these.
Click on the image below to view the 8 strategies and actions proposed for the Annual Plan.
The committee was presented today with a summary of feedback from community consultation and was asked to consider recommending that the Full Council adopt the Annual Plan as proposed, including the amendments proposed today. The recommendation was passed with Cr Reynold MacPherson noting he abstained.
Amendments included reducing the initially proposed 4.7% rates increase to 4%. This is an increase in targeted rates only – necessary to deliver safe and reliable essential services – with a 0% increase in general rates proposed.
Council’s Chief Financial Officer Thomas Collé noted Council would not be considering options relating to the future delivery of wastewater services until late July, after the adoption of the Annual Plan. He explained budgeting for 2020/21 allowed for funding of whichever option was adopted.
Accommodation providers were the sector most affected by the increase in targeted rates which was largely related to wastewater charges, Mr Collé said. Up to $100,000 in rates remissions for this sector is proposed to help soften the impact.
A formal rates deferment scheme put in place for the fourth quarter instalment for this financial year will not continue into the 2020/21 year due to low uptake of the scheme put in place to help cushion the immediate impact of COVID-19. However, those facing financial difficulties will continue to be able to discuss their situation with Council and come to agreed payment arrangements.
Mr Collé assured elected members in response to questions that the reduced targeted rates increase would not mean reduced levels of infrastructure renewals. He said infrastructure renewals remained a top priority and the council did not manage rating levels by reducing renewals.
Chief Executive Geoff Williams cautioned that the level of rating proposed for 2020/21 would not be sustainable in the long term unless there were significant changes in service levels. Nor was the proposed annual plan an indication of sustainable levels of debt increases, he said. Both would need to be addressed as part of long-term plan discussions that would begin later this year.
Recommended criteria for the proposed $1m community fund will be presented to Council in August and recommendations relating to projects that could be funded from the $29m economic recovery fund will also brought to Council for decision-making. Any potential Council funding for projects that have been submitted for Central Government funding through Crown Infrastructure Partners (the ‘shovel-ready’ projects) will also be brought to elected members for decision-making. The outcome of Rotorua Lakes Council’s CIP submissions is not yet known.
Strategy Group Manager Jean-Paul Gaston told elected members that while COVID-19 had changed the landscape, the issues Rotorua faced pre-COVID remained and Council had determined that its long-term goals [Vision 2030 and The Rotorua Way] remained the same. Working in partnership with the community and Central Government remained key to addressing issues and achieving those goals, he said.
- Today’s meeting was livestreamed and you can go straight to the full presentation and subsequent deliberations on the proposed Annual Plan via THIS LINK
- You can view the presentation slides at THIS LINK on Council’s website
- View the full report considered by the committee today, including the summary of feedback provided by the community, HERE
- View the draft Annual Plan that was consulted on, along with other related information, at THIS LINK on Council's website.
- Today’s meeting was livestreamed and you can access the recording via THIS LINK on Council’s website, or via Council’s YouTube channel HERE.