Hawke's Bay Regional Council has signalled a zero rates increase due to the ongoing coronavirus concerns.

Councillors sought urgent advice from the chief executive James Palmer on the issue at a meeting on Wednesday, before stopping a proposed increase.

Chairman Rex Graham said the council was aware of the financial pain within the region due to Covid-19, drought and Bovine TB.

READ MORE:
Premium - Hawke's Bay Regional Council name change to be investigated, despite councillor's concerns
Rex Graham re-elected as Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman unopposed
Hawke's Bay Regional Council's 3D aquifer mapping project takes off


"We want to postpone our planned rate increase and need to find ways to do this and still deliver on our 2020-21 Annual Plan," he said.

"It is an incredibly difficult time for many people in the region, and we are committed to doing everything in our powers to get the region through the series of crises we are in.

Advertisement

"This is just the beginning of a series of initiatives that we are developing."

Palmer also outlined essential services that are being maintained during the lockdown period, which included contributing to Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management response, flood management and response capability and maintaining pump stations and flood and drainage infrastructure.

Maintaining pollution and oil response capability for urgent cases, harbourmaster and biosecurity functions and Resource Management Act functions, including resource consents, were also included.

The council delegated Palmer the authority to make urgent decisions in specified situations during the Covid-19 pandemic and while the Government's alert levels make meetings of council impractical.

The council also unanimously agreed to consolidate all committee meetings into a weekly council meeting to be held by video for the next four weeks.

The regional council offices will remain closed, but staff are available via phone, email and Facebook.

Deputy chairman Rick Barker has been appointed as Hawke's Bay's Regional Civil Defence chairman.

This is a position usually reserved for the chairman of the regional council, however Graham recommended Barker's appointment.

Advertisement

"Rick is the perfect person in our region to do this job," Graham said.

"He is a former minister in charge of CD and the current deputy chair of the HBRC, he has a deep understanding of the challenges and issues before us and I have total confidence in him."