The vote was at a City Council meeting held via video-conference to agree the next steps in the development of the 2020/21 draft Annual Plan, and agree an initial Pandemic Response Plan (PRP).
The Council also agreed that staff detail the implications of a possible 2.15% rates increase.
Mayor Andy Foster told the meeting the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown is having a dramatic effect on the economy and the community.
He added the Council is also a business – and that revenue from the likes of parking and pools has disappeared in the short term. The Council is looking at a deficit of almost $70 million and the chance of a dividend from the Council’s share in the airport company in the next two years “is slim”.
The meeting endorsed the PRP which, via a range of deferrals and freezing of charges, aims to soften the effects of the pandemic economic impact on businesses in particular.
Mayor Foster said the pandemic and its aftermath are likely to bring significant changes to the city’s economy. “Even just the fact that many people have taken to the advantages of working from home means the dynamics of the CBD may change markedly.
“Our CBD is the heart of the region – we have to work hard to get the heart pumping again.”
Mayor Foster said the proposed 4.95% rates increase will still require the Council to borrow to fund the forecast $68 million in lost revenue due to Covid-19. Without this borrowing, rates would need to be a lot higher.
The 2.15% option would also require the Council to debt-fund some depreciation - which would decrease the amount of rates funding for infrastructure asset replacement and result in higher rates increases in future years.
As a result of today’s meeting, Council officers will prepare documents that will aim to inform public consultation on the proposals. The documents will be discussed at a further meeting on 30 April and then be subject to public consultation in May.