Three Bay community groups have received financial boosts as a result of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Annual Plan deliberations.
Water Safety Bay of Plenty and Western Bay Museum were each granted $20,000, while Māori economic development organisation Toi Kai Rawa Trust also received $250,000 through the Community Initiatives Fund.
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Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said the funding was in line with the strategic direction of the council.
"This support reflects the role we play in maintaining a vibrant region as well as making sure our communities are safe and resilient", Leeder said.
The council also agreed to set aside $41,000 for education ensuring the community are made aware of the new Motiti Island protection provisions.
Regional councillors also resolved to work towards a zero per cent general rates increase and will set rates for 2020/21 at its next council meeting on June 25, Leeder said.
"The direction to keep general rates increases at zero per cent gives certainty to people in the Bay of Plenty and helps to relieve the pressure that some territorial local authorities in our region are facing when looking at setting rates in this unprecedented time.
"In addition to using financial reserves, further internal efficiencies have been found for this year in the order of $2.3m in additional savings," he said.
Leeder said some savings had come as a result of the new Covid-19 environment which has seen catering and hospitality costs reduced; no international travel and reduction in 50 per cent of domestic travel; and the push towards a paperless work environment.
The council also agreed to fund $300,000 towards a Regional Recovery Project that encompasses the development of a Bay of Connections-led Regional Recovery Strategy and Work Programme.
Key focus areas for this annual plan were continuing to respond to Maori partnerships and climate change, he said.
Over recent months the BOP Regional Council has allocated:
• $650,000 for the Regional Pest Management Plan
• $180,000 extra expenditure to prepare for implementing Government's actions for Healthy Waterway's package
• $5 million towards the Awatarariki Fanhead Managed Retreat
• $45,000 for Climate Change Fund development.
During the year the regional council will also complete its Covid-19 recovery programme which is due to be approved in September.