The onus for driving post-Covid-19 recovery should lay at the feet of the New Zealand Government and not the Horowhenua District Council.
That's the view of Foxton Community Board chairman David Roache who, strongly advocating for a zero rate increase for ratepayers for the coming year, said HDC should stick to its core services. Roache said it wasn't the council's job to stimulate a post-Covid-19 economic recovery and it should not be an argument used to continue non-essential work.
"It's the Government's role to stimulate the economy, not ratepayers'," he said.
The Budget last week spent millions on wage subsidies, tourism relief, trades training packages, housing and a range of initiatives designed to kick-start the economy.
Roache said if HDC was to put on hold all non-essential projects for 12 months, the expected rate take of around $40 million last year should be enough to cover all essential projects for the coming year.
He said he was aware the council employed and contracted a number of local businesses within Horowhenua.
"I'm not advocating that we cut spending on essential services like water, sewer and roading," he said.
"It is through the continuation of projects and maintenance that council will be able to continue to support these services and businesses and therefore our local economy.
"I would just prefer that we don't spend any extra money."
Roache said the loss of income for employees and employers through a downturn in business because of the Covid-19 lockdown could have a huge effect on communities like Foxton.
"It will take time to recover and many businesses may not recover. This is unprecedented times and council needs to show leadership and helps its ratepayers," he said.
"Many are currently facing hardship." As a business owner employing 11 people, he said his business had taken a financial hit during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
"We are keeping a positive attitude and we'll get through this but it has cost us a lot of money," he said.
"But everyone's in the same boat."
HDC had mooted an average rate rise across the district of 6.9 per cent before the outbreak of Covid-19, although any increase was under urgent review before an Annual Plan was locked in at the end of next month.
Roache said he applauded regional council Horizons for reviewing its Annual Plan and adopting a 1 per cent rate increase.
HDC had gone to great lengths to gauge public opinion before making its final decision and had received a record number of submissions - more than 150 - from all sectors of the community.