Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate has instructed staff to develop a “comprehensive set of rates proposals” to help buffer householders against the economic fall-out of COVID-19.
Southgate has confirmed a potential rates freeze remains on the table but is pushing for staff to look at what further rates levers Council can pull.
“My Councillors have made it very clear they are seeking clear and costed proposals around the full suite of options available to us, including possible rates deferrals and postponements. We want a programme that is targeted and effective in dealing with hardship.”
“Staff are still working through the detail and in terms of rates for next year, I don’t know what kind of quantum figure or changes we might be looking at yet,” she said.
“But I absolutely want to consider an adjustment to rates or possibly a complete freeze at current levels or below.”
“There are a lot of levers we can be pulling to help target people who are going to be impacted and we need to look at every single one of them.”
Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor said Council must respond quickly to a community which would be “hurting”.
“I don’t think anyone knows what this will mean yet in terms of the economic spill-over, but our job is to minimise the impact of that as much as we possibly can both in the short and longer term,” he said.
“We should be focused on projects to help stimulate and support local business – and we are. But we also have to think of social impacts as well.”
Council staff, working with government officials, are currently pulling together a hardship and economic stimulus package to help reduce social and economic impacts on the city. Details will be released over coming weeks.
The Council has already signalled it will be looking to fast-track major infrastructure projects and that it was working with government on possible co-funding arrangements.