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ChCh strikes over all rates increase of 2.81%

Chch City Council strikes over all rates increase of 2.81 per cent

Christchurch City Council today (15 July) approved its Annual Plan and budget for 2003/04, which carries a lower-than-predicted over all rates increase of 2.81 per cent.

Councillor Alister James, chairman of the Annual Plan Subcommittee, says the Council has approved a �gforward-looking programme of improvements that has regard to the well being of the community for the present and the future�h.

When it sat this morning the City Council had before it a plan which would have resulted in an over-all rates increase of 3.12%.

By sector, the final 2.81% over-all increase is allocated as follows: a 0.78% reduction for commercial and industrial ratepayers, an increase in residential rates of 3.88%, and a rise in the city�fs rural rate of 4.19%. The key sector rates are in line with those projected in the draft plan issued in April this year.

The City Council budget year runs from 1 July to 30 June. This year�fs plan gives indications of expected changes in the over all rates over following years. They are for increases of 3.61% in 2004/05, 3.08% in 05/06 and 3.02% in 06/07.

Cr James says this plan meets all the requirements of the new Local Government Act. �gThe new Act says the role of local government is to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of communities, in the present and for the future and this plan is doing that and doing it well,�h Cr James says.

�gWe�fre keeping up with our streets programme and other essential services, there�fs money there for transport planning and those in the community who support arts, culture and heritage will be pleased with our initiatives in this area,�h he says.

Today�fs meeting included strong debate on proposals to support the Clearwater Classic international golf tournament and on a plan to develop a passive water sports facility.

Councillors decided to trim the initial Clearwater Classic proposal, which was to put in $400,000 a year for three years. They instead committed to a single $300,000 grant this financial year, with another $100,000 available to underwrite the tournament, if needed. Its assistance is based on the tournament giving local people free access to the event and that its name contain the words �gCity of Christchurch Clearwater Classic�h. It will also instruct the organisers to work with the Council�fs Leisure Unit on ways to make the tournament viable over the long term.

Cr James says there are strong economic arguments in favour of supporting the Classic. �gIt has a worldwide audience of 350 million and would be the number one international and anchor event of which Christchurch City would be the major sponsor and a major beneficiary with real jobs and a real impact on visitor numbers,�h he says.

The proposal to help develop a facility for passive water sports was also modified. A major capital budget to assist the development was withdrawn. What remains is $150,000 to pay for investigations into whether such a facility is needed and could support itself and looking at where it might best be built.

�gThe investigations will look at all available land options, the construction costs and the demand and other relevant issues,�h Cr James says.

Any proposed Council support resulting from those investigations would be available for full public debate and feedback in next year�fs annual plan round, he says.

The Draft Plan was open for public comment from 23 April until 28 May. More than 300 people and groups made submissions

Notes on budget

�œ Each year, the full cost of City Council operations are met by the rates take and earnings from investments and dividends from the companies which it owns or part-owns and from fees and charges. This year�fs plan has an operational budget of $287 million. A little under half of that ($132m) will come from income other than rates. This plan�fs capital spend is expected to be $97.4m.

�œ Christchurch City Council is one of only two New Zealand local bodies with an AA+ credit rating.

�œ The Council�fs policy is to borrow money only for projects which create or improve a capital asset, not for general operational spending. What this means is that extra spending such as money grants from the Council or higher payments for fuel and wages directly push up rates, while money earmarked to refurbish a hall or build a new library do not have the same direct effect.

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