Friday, 07 August 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Budget revamp underway ahead of Annual Plan vote

Thames-Coromandel District Council is searching for ways to slash the 9.98 per cent increase they planned on seeking from ratepayers this July.

Members of the public have just days left to tell council what they think of measures in the draft TCDC Annual Plan 2020/21 which, in addition to the proposed rates hike, include significant increases across a range of fees, including rubbish disposal.

Council is currently working out how the impacts and costs to date of Covid-19 have affected current spending, which is likely to flow through to next year’s budget. While money will be saved due to the inability to complete capital projects as planned, there is uncertainly around how operational costs will be impacted.

"We are currently reforecasting budgets so we have an accurate picture of where we are," said TCDC mayor, Sandra Goudie. "We expect an under-delivery of capital expenditure as we had been on-track to achieve perhaps 90 per cent of our capital programme, but it may now be more like 60 per cent.”

Council says expected operational costs could reduce slightly, but this may be offset with cost increases due to working with central government to transition people into other forms of work.

As TCDC crunches their numbers, Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, has made it clear that local councils should be doing everything in their power to avoid further burdens on homeowners and business who are already under severe pressure. At a meeting of the cross-party committee overseeing the work of the government while Parliament is not sitting, Mr Robinson said he would encourage every council to think very carefully about whether it’s the right time put up rates.

While TCDC has not given any commitment to reducing the 9.98 percent rise, they are clearly asking the public to identify what cuts they would be willing to accept in order to make savings. “We really need to know about what projects and services people think could be postponed, altered or maybe even cut in order to provide savings going forward,” they say. “We know it’s difficult for people to focus on this right now, but this affects what council does moving forward and the level of service we provide.

“It’s really important that people look at the Annual Plan consultation material on our website at www.tcdc.govt.nz/annualplan2020 and send us a submission. All the submissions will be considered… and factored into the decision-making on the Annual Plan.”

TCDC is also urging anyone who thinks they’ll have trouble meeting their rates payments to get in touch and have offered to waive penalties for late payment for those who enter into an arrangement to pay. Notices for the latest rates instalment are about to be issued with payments due by 15 May.

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