30 June 2020
Public feedback on Māori Ward likely
In a nearly full chamber, Te Huinga Taumatua committee has recommended seeking public feedback on three options for the creation of a Māori Ward and NPDC lobby Central Government for law changes to remove the provision of a binding poll on the Māori Ward. They removed one option that would have let respondents say no to creating a Ward. A final decision on the consultation will be made at the Full Council Meeting on 21 July. Under local government rules, the Council has review its makeup every six years and this includes deciding if a Māori Ward should be set up.
New Plymouth Airport recapitalised
NPDC is to provide a $22m equity injection to its independent airport company, Papa Rereangi i Puketapu (PRIP), following the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. A partial share dividend, to offset the impacts of the debt for equity swap, is also on the cards by 2023. The travel sector has been one of the areas hit-hardest by the pandemic and the New Plymouth Airport saw its revenue drop to almost zero as New Zealand went into full lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19 in March. At an Extraordinary Council meeting on 30 June, the Mayor and Councillors considered options from independent financial advisors PWC on the financial future of the 100% NPDC-owned airport.
Back On Our Feet budget passed
A Get Us Back On Our Feet yearly budget has been approved by the Mayor and Councillors and includes a $20 million package to help residents and local businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19. The $175 million Annual Plan has been revised due to the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic including a projected $5.4 million drop in income. Proposed rate increases for the average residential ratepayer were cut from nearly 5% to 2.71%. Nearly 1,000 people gave their feedback on the stimulus measures with support for initiatives to help keep tradies in work by making homes warmer and greener, boosting grassroots groups, slashing fees and charges to cut the cost of doing business, favouring Taranaki firms for NPDC’s works and help with sprucing up town centre buildings. The package includes $8 million in rates relief while city centre shops and cafes will get a shot in the arm with one hour of free parking until 30 September.