Covid-19 spurs Gisborne rates rise rethink

7:22 pm on 8 April 2020

A rates freeze or reduction are up for discussion next week as Gisborne district councillors rethink 2020/21 rates in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gisborne district councillors previously agreed to pursue an overall 4.87 percent rates rise for 2020/21.

Gisborne District Council Photo: Liam Clayton / The Gisborne Herald / LDR

In February, councillors agreed to pursue an overall 4.87 percent rates rise for the coming financial year.

They also agreed to seek public feedback on ways to lessen the increase, which was going to add an extra $150 to $200 a year to rates bills for city households, on average.

However, councillors would head back to the drawing board next Thursday to see what "in these very uncertain times" could be done to freeze or reduce the rates take for the year to 30 June 2021, Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz said yesterday.

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said the council had a couple of months to work out what was going to be best for Gisborne and its ratepayers.

The council's 2020/21 annual plan, which sets the rates take, must be adopted by the end of June.

Ms Thatcher Swann flagged a smaller rates rise, along with rates remissions for people most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, as options that could be considered by councillors.

An advisory from the Department of Internal Affairs last week urged councils to be wary of the inclination to freeze rates, warning it could hinder their efforts to respond and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Central government is investing heavily to reduce the financial impact [of Covid-19] on individuals and businesses, which gives councils some room to carefully consider their actions," the department said.

It was important for councils to balance the financial stress and uncertainty ratepayers were facing with the need to invest in infrastructure and services.

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