Levin Ward Councillor Sam Jennings
Recent statements from Horowhenua Mayor Bernie Wanden appear to be at odds with his vote against the recent rates reduction.
Mayor Wanden says “Horowhenua is a fantastic place to live, work and play and we are increasingly seeing it becoming more attractive for those wanting to relocate. However, we have an above average population on fixed incomes and are over-represented in unemployment statistics.”
He says Council received a large number of submissions to this Annual Plan, more than the previous two years combined.
“We heard from sections of our community that COVID-19 had negatively affected their livelihoods. We owe it to our community to listen to them in this time of need and uncertainty”.
However he voted against the motion for the decrease in rates, as did deputy mayor Jo Mason.
With many ratepayers struggling in the Covid-19 era, the vote to ease the rates burden has been welcomed by residents.
Popular Levin Ward councillor Sam Jennings says the decision was a clear signal to the community that a majority of councillors are committed to ensuring every rate dollar is treated as precious.
“We are essentially asking council to make do with less to help our community through COVID 19, but to also bring in a new age of ongoing sensible and defensible spending.”
Cr Jennings says he has been committed to delivering a zero rate rise budget.
“This sends a clear signal that we have listened to the community expectation of financial restraint, and have delivered a pause in non-essential expenditure.”
He says Councillors had asked for a zero rate option but as can be seen from the meeting agenda there was nothing provided.
“So it was ultimately a choice between a rate rise of almost 2% or a decrease below zero. That is why I supported the decrease. I was one of six councillors voting in favour of the decrease.”
The result of the vote was 6-5. Voting against the decreased rates – Mayor Bernie Wanden, Crs Christine Mitchell, David Allan, Jo Mason, and Ross Brannigan, while those in favour were Councillors, Jennings, Robert Ketu, Todd Isaacs, Piri-Hira Tukapua, Wayne Bishop, and Victoria Kaye-Simmons.