A general rates freeze and a 4 per cent targeted rates rise will soon be considered for Rotorua, following public feedback.

The proposed targeted rates rise has dropped 0.7 per cent.

In March the council was considering a rates increase of 8.18 per cent.

A summary of public feedback on the Rotorua Lakes Council's 2020/21 Annual Plan was heard at a council committee meeting this morning.

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The council's chief financial officer Thomas Colle and strategy manager Jean-Paul Gaston presented the findings of the public consultation process at a Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee meeting.

Rotorua Lakes Council chief financial officer Thomas Colle presents at the committee. Photo / Felix Desmarais / LDR
Rotorua Lakes Council chief financial officer Thomas Colle presents at the committee. Photo / Felix Desmarais / LDR

Along with a reduction in the recommended targeted rates rise, council staff recommended support for the commercial accommodation sector and adequate funding to support the council's coming wastewater management decision.

Colle said the plan delivered on cushioning the economic blow of Covid-19.

"[It] also supports our community, in particular around the projected economic recovery that is going to take place, but retains flexibility.

"That flexibility will allow us, on behalf of the community, to respond to uncertainty."

About 200 people and organisations gave feedback on the draft 2020/21 Annual Plan, which would create a $29 million fund to stimulate the region's economic recovery, and a further $1m to support community projects and initiatives.

A one-off $1m payment would also be made to Rotorua Airport, aimed at supporting the council-controlled organisation.

The consultation period ended on June 17.

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The annual plan, including the revisions accepted as a result of the consultation process, will be considered for adoption at a full council meeting on July 9.

"I continue to have to endure a contrived witch hunt"

Councillor Reynold Macpherson continues to court controversy in the council chamber.

On Tuesday, Strategy, Policy and Finance committee chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait made the "unusual step" of formally asking Macpherson to "step down from the deliberations on the annual plan".

It followed Macpherson's refusal to leave the decision-making table on Thursday after making a submission on the wastewater proposal as a member of the public.

Chief executive Geoff Williams said it had been "somewhat disappointing" that his seeking of legal advice for the council on matters of predetermination had been "perceived or presented as somehow being politically motivated".

"This is quite untrue.

"My motivation is to ensure that our council operates according to the best decision-making practice possible."

Macpherson said the committee was "an on-going kangaroo court intended to suppress my views".

That comment elicited an audible groan from councillor Trevor Maxwell.

"Councillor Maxwell, you'll have an opportunity to speak after this. You'd do well to listen for a change," Macpherson said.

Strategy, Policy and Finance committee chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait. Photo / Andrew Warner
Strategy, Policy and Finance committee chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait. Photo / Andrew Warner

Multiple calls for points of order were heard from around the committee table, with Maxwell saying "bad behaviour, Mr Macpherson".

Macpherson said the legal advice had been "deployed to threaten an ongoing and open appreciation of alternatives to the predetermined position being presented by officials".

"In my view, this advice potentially undermines the human right to freedom of expression and the principles of elected representation.

"I see this as an orchestrated attempt to blacken my name.

"I'm going to continue to press this point, that we all wear many hats.

"I continue to have to endure a contrived witch hunt which has got no possibility of resolution."

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said it boiled down to "a good understanding of good governance and a matter of personal integrity".

Maxwell said he believed Macpherson had a conflict of interest.

"I'm just appalled at Mr Macpherson's bad behaviour. He doesn't participate genuinely."

Councillor Raj Kumar came to Macpherson's defence, saying a conflict of interest came from "within", while councillor Sandra Kai Fong queried that conflicts of interest had not been declared before the motion to request Macpherson remove himself was put.

The motion passed with Macpherson, Kumar and Bentley opposed and Kai Fong abstaining.

Raukawa-Tait then asked Macpherson if he would leave, to which he responded: "Thank you, but no thanks."

Outside the meeting, Kai Fong clarified her vote against was because she felt "the process was not correct".

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