Whangārei rates to be used towards likely $3m council Covid-19 relief

7:25 pm on 26 April 2020

Whangārei District Council (WDC) is looking to set up a $3 million Covid-19 relief package using ratepayers' money.


Whangarei. Photo: 123RF

"The impacts of Covid-19 are clearly being felt now and council has already announced various measures to support our community," Whangārei District Council's Dominic Kula, general manager - strategy and governance, and Alan Adcock, general manager corporate/chief financial officer, jointly said in a council meeting agenda item.

"However, there is now clear evidence that recovery will take place over an extended period, with ongoing adverse effects," Kula and Adcock said.

"While central government is taking a lead role in funding and delivering support through a number of its agencies, council can play a role in this as well," the agenda authors said.

Ratepayers' money and WDC operational funding would be used for the relief package.

The agenda item said setting up the Covid-19 relief package would potentially push WDC into an operating deficit for the coming 2020/2021 financial year.

"However, on balance, and given our responsibility to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities in the present and for the future, this would be an acceptable and prudent decision," Kula and Adcock said.

They said council was 'somewhat constrained' by the fact any financial support, if provided, was funded by the same community that would receive the Covid-19 relief support.

"However, we do have the ability to use some operational funding for targeted support; either to supplement government support packages or to fill gaps in their programme," they said.

Their comments come in a joint agenda item to go to a Whangārei District Council (WDC) full council meeting to be held on Thursday 30 April. Councillors at the virtual meeting will vote on whether to formally adopt the relief proposal.

The agenda item recommends WDC councillors vote in favour of doing so.

It proposes setting up of a range of relief programmes. Work is under way to establish how the exact form and allocation of the proposal might look.

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