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Whanganui District Council deliberates on 2020/21 Annual Plan

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was at the forefront of Whanganui District Council’s deliberations at its meeting on Tuesday, 2 June 2020 on submissions to its 2020/21 Annual Plan.

Mayor Hamish McDouall says an annual plan allows councils to make necessary adjustments to their long-term plan.

"We have our big picture, but we also need to revisit it annually and consider whether there are new challenges and opportunities to be taken into account.

"This year we are faced with the immense challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it has brought to the community.

"We have responded by reducing the original proposed average rates increase from 3.9 percent to 1.4 percent. We’ve been able to achieve this by reducing our loan repayments for 2020/21 and taking a forensic look at the coming year’s budget and making adjustments where we could.

"In further recognition of the impact of COVID-19, the Council is currently consulting on a rates relief package to provide additional support alongside its annual plan."

Mayor McDouall says rates for each individual property will vary, particularly in a revaluation year where some larger changes will occur because of relative valuation adjustments.

Additional funding for climate change, housing and digital connectivity was approved.

"These are important threads in our Leading Edge Strategy and help us to be a well-prepared and responsive community," Mayor McDouall says.

"COVID-19 has illustrated how important digital connectivity is - it enables the continuity of businesses and keeping people connected with the community."

"We are conscious that the Council is a key part of any economic recovery and we want to respond to the needs of our community. We know that by undertaking our work programme the Council will continue to provide jobs and economic stimulus in the district," Mayor McDouall says.

Funding for safety improvements to Whanganui Airport was also approved along with a reconfirmation of the Council’s prior financial commitment to supporting roofing the Cooks Gardens velodrome.

The Annual Plan 2020/21 document will be formally adopted at a full Council meeting on 23 June 2020.

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