I want to thank all of you for playing your part in the team of 5 million. We got through this pandemic together, as a country, and as a city. We can be really proud of our efforts and the responsibility we took to save lives.
Lower Hutt’s community groups and local businesses have played a huge part in our efforts to combat the effects of COVID-19 too. I have seen a lot of local businesses supporting each other and working together through the crisis. Our local runanga and marae, our food banks, social agencies, faith, cultural and community groups have done great work every day to support our people.
As we head into our recovery phase now, we must continue to support those who need it in our community and support our local businesses. As we responded together, we must recover together.
Council has just signed off on its Annual Plan and Emergency Budget for 2020/21. This year’s plan is about three things – getting back to basics, tightening our belt, and getting us through.
In some ways, it has been our “second go” at our Annual Plan. Earlier in the year, we had originally signalled a rates revenue increase of 7.9 percent, but after it became clear that COVID-19 meant we could not continue with business as usual, we have halved the increase to 3.8%.
The Annual Plan strikes a balance – scaling back spending to provide some relief to ratepayers by making $3 million in operational savings but also continuing our investment in core infrastructure and services.
Two-thirds of the rates increase will go directly towards much-needed investment in our water infrastructure. We were told at the start of this year our Council needs to double capital investment in this area. I’m pleased we will make a start on tackling this enormous challenge, noting that we will have to pick this up as part of our upcoming Long Term Plan.
As Mayor, I will always be upfront and honest with you about the issues and challenges facing our city. If you ever have any questions for me, or would like to discuss something that’s on your mind, do not hesitate to get in touch.
I’ve also restarted my in-person “catch-ups” across the Hutt. If you see one of these advertised, please do drop by and say “hello”, I really enjoy getting out and about and hearing directly from you!
Mayor of Lower Hutt