Bay of Plenty Regional Council's elected members have unanimously agreed to work towards a zero per cent general rates increase in the 2020/21 financial year.

The council expects to make final decisions on its Annual Plan 2020/21 and set rates for 2020/21 at its Council meeting scheduled for June 25.

Councillors met today to shift the council's focus from business-as-usual to essential services, to support communities through the coming weeks.

Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said "the direction to keep general rates increases at zero per cent gives certainty to people in the Bay of Plenty".

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He said it also "helps to relieve the pressure that some territorial local authorities in our region are facing when looking at setting rates in this unprecedented time".

"There are some big decisions we'll need to make later in the year when we can get back to business-as-usual. We have the capacity to use our reserve funding and we recognise that some projects will now be delayed due to Covid-19," Leeder said.

"There will also be some matters to work through such as how we fund some big infrastructure projects like stage six of the Rangitāiki Floodway works."

The council set up an Emergency Committee, with a membership of three councillors and a quorum of two, to allow swift decision-making and delegated responsibility in response to the extraordinary times.

It also suspended core committees.

"We have also extended the delegated authority to the chief executive, to allow further flexibility in our ability to respond," Leeder said in a press release this afternoon.

Other changes outlined in the meeting related to community consultation on core council activities.

Council resolved to continue with consultation on the Flood Protection and Drainage Bylaws 2020 Statement of Proposal.

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"These bylaws are a core function and will continue to be a focus for us, even as our communities are in alert level 4. In parts of our region, the bylaws are key to ensuring the safety of our communities. People will continue to be consulted to ensure these bylaws can be approved later this year.

"However, we are acutely aware that our communities will have different matters on their minds over the coming weeks and months, so we have made the decision not to consult on our Annual Plan, but to ramp-up our consultation later in the year on our Long-Term Plan 2021-2031.

"We still need our communities on board to steer our direction and decision-making on the big questions like climate change and public transport. But the Local Government Act gives us flexibility about how we do this, so we'll take the opportunity to consult deeply for our long-term planning," Leeder said.