Monday 2 November 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has put Napier City Council into a deficit for the first time in its 31-year history.

The Annual Report for 2019/20, adopted today at the Council’s Extraordinary Council meeting, highlights the pandemic as being the most significant contributing factor to the overall year end deficit of $2 million, with the shortfall being funded by loans..

Tourism facilities were either closed or continued to be affected as the country dropped back down the alert levels.

We’ve had some great successes and also great challenges over the past year, but as our Report shows, we have stuck to our commitments as best we can, including continuing to make water issues our top priority, says Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise. “Keeping our city ticking along throughout the National State of Emergency and changes in alert levels has been demanding. We are well aware of current impacts and preparing for the unknown, so our next Long Term Plan, covering the 10 years from 2021, is being developed with this in mind.”

Acting Chief Executive Keith Marshall, who joined NCC during lockdown, says balancing community expectations and priorities while continuing to balance the books is always a hard task, made more so by this year’s unexpected events.

Initiatives set up as a result of the pandemic include: a Rapid Response Fund to help non-profit social service and community organisations support the response, a Recovery Projects Fund, rates relief packages, and We Are Team Napier – Kia kotahi tātau o Ahuriri nei.

Other positives in 2019/20 include the launch on 1 November last year of the new kerbside recycling collection using Council-supplied crates, and the city being able to host signature events such as the Napier Art Deco Festival and Hurricanes vs Sunwolves match.

In January 2019 Central Government announced funding to enable the development of the regionwide Three Waters Review. The project aligned with the region’s strategic priority for the 2019-22 triennium – water safety, security and planning – agreed by the Hawke’s Bay Leaders Forum on 25 November 2019.

The regional review has now been superceded by the national reform process.

The 2020 Stormwater Bylaw, aimed at better protecting the city’s urban waterways, improving stormwater quality, Te Whanganui-a- Orotū (Ahuriri estuary) and the general coastal environment, came into effect in February this year, following consultation late in 2019.

Council also received good community feedback on the Positive Ageing Strategy, adopted earlier this year. Covering the years 2020-24, it considers the ageing population and the impact this will have on Napier.

Council successfully submitted two remits at the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) annual meeting. The building defects claims – to introduce a cap on the liability of Councils in relation to building defects claims whilst joint and several liability applies – passed with 93 percent support of the sector. The other, about social housing and brought jointly with Tauranga and Wellington City Councils, called for an urgent focus on the development and implementation of a broader range of financing tools for social housing provision. The funding would support the operation, upgrade and growth of Council housing portfolios and access to income related rents for eligible tenants. This remit passed with 96 percent support.

Several awards also came NCC’s way.

Napier City Council was the first local authority in this country to make a disability strategy available in Easy Read, a way of presenting information to make it easier for people with learning disabilities to understand. As a result we won the People First’s annual ‘Make it Easy’ award.

The MTG Hawke’s Bay exhibition George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118 was also a winner, of a gold spatial design award in the exhibitions and temporary structures category of the 2019 Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Awards.

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