Greater Wellington Regional Council has agreed to cut its 2020/21 regional rates from an average increase of 6.3% to 3% during discussions on its draft annual plan.
The decision was made after looking at the impact COVID-19.
The GWRC says the reduction will come through savings, reserves, and borrowing.
This means the Council can continue to pay for key work such as public transport, flood defences and environmental work.
Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter says the Region is facing increased costs from its activities and progress on major projects.
But the impact of COVID-19 on communities would come first.
“COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on our communities, leaving many with financial hardship and stress.
Review of all activities
“With this in mind, we have carried out a line-by-line review of all our activities to identify cost savings and efficiency improvements.
“So we can deliver our planned work programme while keeping the financial burden on communities to a minimum.
“Obviously the overall impact of COVID-19 will still have to be worked through and Greater Wellington will have to be agile in its response over the coming year.
“This includes uncertainty over the level of fare revenue from public transport as people’s travel patterns change,” says Mr Ponter.
Support for Stadium
As part of the draft annual plan, Council discussed a joint loan with Wellington City Council to support the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust, at a cost of $2.1 million to Greater Wellington, which is repayable over 10 years.
This loan facility, if needed, has been assessed as ‘not significant or material’, with very limited impact on rates in 2020/21.
Council also considered its target to be carbon neutral across all of its operations and subsidiaries by 2030.
The draft annual plan for 2020/21 includes a new $2 million internal budget for the council’s low carbon initiatives which will be funded by borrowing — and paid back from the sale of the GWRC’s national ‘Council Emissions Trading Scheme’ units, which are presently valued at around $7.2 million.