Kia ora koutou. May 26. Still alert level 2. 97 percent of our COVID cases in New Zealand have recovered and things are going well I think. We've had an increase in the size of gatherings up to a hundred which is just great.
Some good news. The intercity bus starts up again this Thursday if you're wanting to take a bus from Ōpōtiki to Tauranga it will be leaving at 10:30 from a the normal place or if you're wanting a bus to Gisborne, that leaves at 4.50pm. You can book your bus at intercity.co.nz or just ring our Ōpōtiki i-SITE people then they'll do that for you gladly.
Today I downloaded the NZ COVID-19 tracer app to my phone. It creates a digital diary of the places I've been and so any place I go into that's got a QR code I can focus on that and it keeps my details and should there begin again to be community passing of the virus I will have a record of who I have been around and where I have been. This is for the really important part of tracing should any little outbreak appear again. Don't worry if you don't have the iPhone or the smartphone to do anything along this, this most places are collecting information in the shops and so on now.
Now a quick talk or discussion really about rates. The May rates have just been collected and this has been totally consistent with the payments, the number of payments, that we do throughout the year and past years. We actually haven't seen any evidence of financial hardship so far. However, please, I'm reiterating, and I have said this before, please contact us if you are unable to pay your rates. Get hold of the council and the rates people.
Annual plan rates. Now this is the discussion around where we are holding our decision at the moment is on a rate rise of 4.25 average over everybody for the next coming financial year. It began at 5 06% we got it down to 4.78%, said nope, still too high, let's see what else we can just take out. We are at 4.25% and we realize there's possibilities for more savings. We could drop possibly another 1%. That decision doesn't have to be made until June the 30th and this is why we have been asking, and I think quite regularly I have asked, for submissions around what we're doing around the rates.
Now added to our having to make this decision is the government's COVID-19 rebuild recovery program around projects that are shovel-ready and able to be set up and get going within a certain number of weeks and are job creators for our community. We have six projects put forward. We haven't heard about any of them yet, so we have a balancing act about can we deliver government funded projects. They will create multiple jobs for our community so they are a win for us and if we get some of the cost of these projects paid by the government then that will help our ratepayers and our council reduce what we need to get. So it's a waiting game at the moment. A positive decision from the government will mean savings for us eventually. So keep that in mind, decisions not made, we're working on reducing things, and we do take these decisions very very seriously and we are here to do the best for our entire community.