Today the South Taranaki District Council (STDC) released a number of initiatives it is working on, aimed at bringing relief to residents and businesses in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Taranaki District mayor Phil Nixon says council has developed a range of measures aimed at bringing relief to residents and businesses, some of which can be actioned immediately while others are more long term and will require additional planning before being rolled out.

"In particular we are looking at initiatives and projects that can get the economy going by using, where possible, local businesses and contractors."

One of the key proposals council is working on is achieving a zero per cent rate increase for the 2020-2021 financial year which begins on July 1.

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"Following the council's Long Term Plan, rates were projected to increase by around 3.36 per cent. However, given the financial burden Covid-19 will place on many families and businesses our council is proposing to have a zero per cent rate rise," says Phil.

"In addition to the zero rates increase the council is proposing a freeze on fees and charges and is offering payment plans and remission of rate penalties for those experiencing financial hardship," he says.

STDC chief executive Waid Crockett says the council is able to achieve the zero rates rise due to the prudent and effective financial management of the organisation by staff and elected members over many years.

"As a result, this council is in a sound financial position and we are able to look to our Long Term Investment Fund to realise this proposal.

"There will be no planned drop in levels of service and we will continue to meet our current and future infrastructure needs without compromising future plans or our financial position," he says.

Waid says these measures are just the first of a number of initiatives the council will look to develop over the coming months.

"These are just our initial measures. We will look to work closely with businesses, iwi and other partners to develop further measures that will support the ongoing welfare of our district," he says.

Ratepayers can contact the council about rate relief payment plans on 0800 111 323.

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Key measures the council is implementing include:

Zero per cent rate increase: Proposing to reduce the projected 3.36 per cent rate increase for the 2020-2021 financial year to a zero per cent rate increase.

Nil increase to fees and charges: Proposing to freeze council fees and charges for the new financial year.

Payment plans and rate penalty remissions: Set up payment plans and remit penalties for those experiencing financial hardship (providing a payment arrangement has been agreed in advance).

Rent relief: Council will excuse tenants of commercial properties it owns from paying rent while they are unable to open.

Pay local/smaller suppliers faster: Standard practice in the industry is for payments to be made on the 20th of the month following an invoice but the council can help local, smaller businesses by paying weekly.

Government financial assistance: Applying for government financial assistance for six significant 'shovel ready projects'.

Business support service: Strengthening the support we can offer business through advice, information, networking, advocacy and co-ordination.

Professional services grant for SMEs: Through Venture Taranaki, the council have assisted with funding a professional services grant to support the district's small-medium enterprises (SMEs - those with fewer than 50 staff) giving access to much-needed professional services advice and support.

Ongoing economic recovery measures: Working with businesses, iwi and other partners we will look at how we can support longer term economic recovery by doing things such as bringing some of our capital projects and other development initiatives forward (such as the Hawera Business Park, associated infrastructure and the smaller town centre upgrades) and using, where possible local businesses/contractors, to stimulate growth and employment.

Other relief measures include:

Cancelled library fines: Until normal services resume, fees on overdue items at our libraries and extend current loans have been removed.

Green waste extension: Green waste stickers will remain valid for five weeks past their original end date of September 30, up to and including November 4.