On Thursday the 7th the Hastings District Council will adopt a 1.9% rate increase for 2020/21 (excluding the change in the refuse/recycling service).

The meeting will be live-streamed on HDC’s website, but don’t expect any drama … these sorts of decisions are pre-wired.

The new budget includes unspecified operational saving of $1.8 million, giving the Chief Executive, according tho the Agenda document: “flexibility as to how to deliver those savings over the course of the year. Providing a coherent picture of this at this time would be highly speculative and not considered to be in the best interests of the community, or the Council and its delivery of services.” In other words, ratepayers … watch this space!

Driving the need for more cash:

  • Additional funds for forecast Covid-19 impacts on Council business, including loss of revenue;
  • New initiatives (Food Hub, Cape Coast, Waipatu);
  • Looking after more and better parks;
  • Existing price escalations within forward maintenance contracts;
  • Public security improvements at some Council facilities.

This lowers the anticipated increase, which was slated to be 4.6%.

HDC Recovery Plan

Perhaps of greater interest will be discussion and adoption of HDC’s Covid-19 Recovery Plan.

Scanning the Plan (you can find it here), I found mostly step-ups or re-packaging recommended for existing programmes — for example, proceeding with the HB Food Innovation Hub, CBD revitalisation, and the existing $130 million capital investment programme.

In the ‘new’ category are a ‘Business Hub’ to somehow assist Hastings businesses with recovery, a $100,000 ‘Rapid Relief Fund’ to help community organisations that are supporting recovery, community ‘well-being hubs’ (very vague), developing ‘Strategies’ for dealing with ‘Arts & Culture Recovery’ and a “Safer Hastings” (addressing suicide prevention and mental health & well-being), a commitment to reducing homelessness, and reviewing existing Community Plans to identify activities that might be prioritised in the interest of recovery.

Clearly the HDC staff was tasked — appropriately — to put their minds to aiding recovery, and a slew of ideas came forth. Some might turn out to be terrific and make a difference. Some half-baked and abandoned. Some more hui than do-ee. Others more eye-candy than impactful. Throw it at the wall and see what sticks.

Ratepayers should welcome the initiative, but also seek assurance that the projects ultimately undertaken have clear rationales, timetables, milestones and KPIs.

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