A rates rise of nearly zero will help Waikato ratepayers facing tough economic conditions because of Covid-19.

Waikato Regional Council has kept the increase to .1 per cent for ratepayers in Thames Coromandel, Hauraki and other Waikato areas.

About 30 per cent of Thames Coromandel residents are aged over 65 and most are on fixed low incomes, so I am particularly pleased that in addition to the zero rate increase WRC has accepted my recommendation that significant funds be set aside for targeted rate relief for those aged 65 and over and other ratepayers facing genuine financial hardship.

In this regard, $400,000 has been earmarked for hardship rates relief, so I encourage anyone struggling to pay their rates to contact WRC and seek assistance.

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Most of the budget savings are through efficiencies in planned spending, rather than cuts to levels of service. This will ensure that jobs are retained that we need to help the region recover.

Significant cost savings have been created by a cap on staff increases and staff pay.

A surplus of $789,000 set aside from last financial year and medium-term borrowing at historically low interest rates has also helped.

The rates position proposed is based on a net zero increase in rates revenue payable by current ratepayers. It may not equate to a zero rates increase for all ratepayers because of variable factors for individual properties.