Update - 20 May 2020

Local Government Response Unit main page

Frequency of Response Unit updates

  • This week we will continue to provide three 5.15 updates  -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday -- to bring you up-to-date guidance and Response Unit advice.
  • From next week the Response Unit, which is pivoting towards recovery efforts, will reduce to one update weekly, on Wednesdays, until further notice.
  • For urgent or “breaking news” we may deliver one-off bulletins on other occasions.

Recovery Reference Group

  • You will find three attachments to this email in relation to the Recovery work.
  • The Recovery Reference Group will meet again on Friday, 22 May 2020, where the group will look to flesh out active workstreams.
  • As we move forward we will look to share ideas across councils and work with key central government agencies and industry groups as appropriate.

1. The Recovery Reference Group’s high-level Terms of Reference (PDF, 430KB). Alongside the formal membership of the Reference Group, we will also invite representatives of relevant government agencies, including NEMA, to attend meetings as appropriate based on the forward agenda.

2. An A3 (PDF, 738KB) developed on the back of discussion around the overarching outline of the Response work to set out the objectives, principles, and opportunities of the recovery programme. This is indicative only, intended as a discussion item rather than a formal work programme.

3. A desktop analysis of shovel ready projects/recovery plan (PDF, 578KB). This summary of findings from the Recovery team’s desktop analysis of councils’ approach to shovel ready projects and recovery plans is provided as an example of some of the work undertaken by the Recovery team over the last few weeks. This summary may be useful in considering your proposals in the light of national emerging themes.  

Guidance on CDEM reimbursements for COVID-19 related costs

The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020

  • The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020 (the Act) was enacted on 16 May 2020. As previously advised, the Act makes a number of changes to support local authorities to manage the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • There are five main changes to local government legislation, and changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 and Rating Valuations Act 1988 discussed below.

Changes to by-election timing

  • The Act makes changes to manage local government by-election timing by:
    • making immediate changes to key timeframes for a current local by-election, if certain conditions are met;
    • establishing an Order-in-Council mechanism for making further changes to by-election timing; and
    • enabling local authority chief executives to delay the commencement of by-election timeframes, if certain conditions are met.
  • This will ensure that qualified persons have a reasonable and equal opportunity to stand as a candidate, nominate a candidate, or vote, in local by-elections.

Addressing the lack of flexibility in the special consultative procedure process

  • The Act enables a modified SCP process that local authorities may choose to follow if the urgency of the circumstances and proposal requires it.
  • The modified process will reduce the current minimum consultation period from one month to one week, and it will remove the mandatory requirement to hold hearings of submitters.
  • This amendment will not modify the default SCP process – it will provide more flexibility if urgent decisions relating to the COVID-19 response are needed. The amendment will be repealed from 1 October 2020 and does not apply to the development of 2021 long-term plans.

Streamlining the process for amending a long-term plan

  • The Act amends audit requirements for long-term plan amendments, if the amendment is COVID-19 response or recovery related and is necessary in order to meet statutory deadlines.
  • This section is repealed on 1 August 2020.

Mandatory revocation of bylaws

  • The Act provides for bylaws that would otherwise be revoked by section 160A of the Local Government Act 2002 to continue in force until 30 June 2021.
  • The extension will be repealed on 1 July 2021.

Amending the definition of public notice

  • The Act temporarily amends the definition of public notice in the Local Government Act 2002, Local Electoral Act 2001, Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, and Local Government Official Information Act 1987 to place a “reasonably practicable” caveat on the requirements for inclusion in a newspaper and requiring publication on the internet in every case.

Amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991

  • The Act also makes two minor changes to the RMA to allow for:
    • RMA hearings to be held by audio link, video, or other remote access technology; and
    • Certain documents to be made available online or for hard copies to be purchased on request instead of being made available for physical inspection. This applies to those documents that the RMA requires be available for physical inspection in places that are closed or have restricted access during lockdown.
  • These changes will have backdated effect from 25 March 2020 and expire on 31 October 2021.

Amendments to the Rating Valuations Act 1988

  • The impact of this, and associated measures, for relevant councils is as follows:
    • Councils may apply to the Valuer-General to have the triennial revaluation due to occur in 2020/21 deferred for one year.
    • The Valuer-General must be satisfied that the council is unlikely or not reasonably able to produce a credible revaluation due to inspection issues or availability/reliability of market evidence.
    • The Valuer-General will soon write to all 2020 revaluation Councils including guidelines to assist Councils understanding of the process, how to make an application and the sorts of supporting information required.
  • It is expected that most councils will proceed with their 2020 revaluations, albeit on a slightly delayed timetable.

Communications collateral for Alert Level 2

  • As we move through Alert Level 2 there will be more people out and about and using council services. As always, communicating best practice with our communities remains key to the COVID-19 response.
  • The COVId-19 website has a number of posters you may wish to use to promote good physical distancing, hygiene and staying safe under Alert Level 2. These can be found here:
  • The All of Government communications team have also updated the social media assets for Alert Level 2 and the ‘golden rules for businesses’. These can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1iit7gwA71Jw87wnMceXLTkApcQFm_YPC?fbclid=IwAR1KPm5w5UZXi7LdJbTaS-dIm4eMvB08bqGFiOH-4TZ6AQ4amvEijGP0nWs
  • Please feel free to share these with your communications colleagues.

Useful resources for Alert Level 2

  • All of Government Information on life under Alert levels 3, 2 and 1 is now available on COVID19.govt.nz