Horowhenua District Council accepted its Annual Plan for 2020/2021, which had gone through many more rounds that any other annual plan, in record time on Monday afternoon.

Within 10 minutes the fast majority of councillors put their hand up for option 1 (out of three), adopting the plan with a -1.83 per cent rates income reduction with no further consultation with the community.

Only councillors Ross Brannigan and David Allan voted against.

Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Brannigan.
Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Brannigan.

Mayor Bernie Wanden moved the motion to accept option 1, which was seconded by councillor Wayne Bishop.

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Wanden said that the discussion about the annual plan that took place in the last three months had been "robust and challenging".

He said this was this council most significant decision which would also have a long term impact. "We felt the need to be pro-active in these extraordinary times and realised flexible thinking was needed as a result of Covid-19 and its impact on the community."

"While this decision-making might be extraordinary, it is clear from this that we listened to the community and did what is in their best interest.

"I also want us all to be aware of the consequences, especially when it comes to the long term plan."

Horowhenua District Councillor David Allan.
Horowhenua District Councillor David Allan.

Allan said he was concerned about those long term implications.

"No reasonable person will support this, as there was overwhelming support for a zero increase. This will genuinely surprise the community," he said

"This decision departs significantly from our financial strategy."

That's why he said he preferred option 2, which allowed for more consultation.

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"People need to have the chance to express their concerns about the consequences of this decision," he said.

Wanden expressed his appreciation for the staff, realising they had put many hours into the annual plan and its various stages to help make this work.