Wellington City Council has estimated a $70 million fiscal shortfall for the 2020/21 year as its revenue streams dry up in the Covid-19 pandemic.
The council's top brass has met with councillors this afternoon for the first time since the lockdown to discuss the organisation's pandemic response and recovery plan.
The public was excluded from the talks, but a full council meeting will be scheduled next Thursday, and papers being discussed today have been made available online.
Mayor Andy Foster said they discussed the impact of the pandemic on the council itself.
"I won't beat about the bush – the numbers that the workshop will be looking at this afternoon are, to put it mildly, very challenging, and they will force us into some tough decision-making."
The council's non-rates revenue streams have "instantly" dried up, Foster said.
There is now no income coming from the likes of swimming pools, parking meters and enforcement, and its share in Wellington Airport will be impacted given hardly any planes are now flying.
The council would have to borrow significantly and look at service cuts to avoid a significant rates increase, Foster said.
The response and recovery plans would try to soften the impacts on business and residents, he said.
The council has proposed to defer the payment of the next rates bill for the commercial sector and for residents who can show they have been financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foster said he wanted the payment of the 2019/20 fourth-quarter rates bill to be deferred for at least six months and that the 10 per cent late-payment penalty be dropped.
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
He said a range of rates options for 2020/21 would be considered, starting from a zero increase option.
The council is also proposing parking remain free until at least June, and that weekend parking be free for a period after lockdown to attract people back into town.
As a landlord, the council is also looking at rent relief where organisations and businesses could show financial hardship caused by Covid-19.
The council is also considering a range of proposed fee refunds and fee freezes, including consents, liquor fees, pool and gym fees.
Foster said the council would ensure payments to suppliers were sped up to improve their cash flow at this critical time.
The council, alongside Wellington NZ and the Chamber of Commerce, will also establish a City Recovery Panel.
Foster said the council was responding with its regional partners to the Government's request for "shovel-ready" projects to boost employment.
He said council officers have also been asked to look for projects, which could be brought forward.
"One morale-raising example could be the redevelopment of Frank Kitts Park or at least the FKP playground - this obviously is something that has to be weighed up against the ability of the local construction sector to respond, given the turbulence of the economy."
Other examples included the planned Omaroro and Bell Rd reservoirs and developments within Te Ngakau Civic Square.