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Council approves plan for next three years

Friday 28 June 2013

Council approves plan for next three years

Following four weeks of community consultation, 372 written submissions, three days of public hearings and several days of deliberations, Christchurch City Council yesterday adopted a Three Year Plan.

The Christchurch City Three Year Plan 2013-2016 sets out all the projects and services the Council will provide over the next three financial years, how much they will cost and where the money will come from. The plan sets out an overall rates increase of 6.67 per cent.

That is made up of an increase of 4.74 per cent to cover standard services and projects, and an additional 1.93 per cent special earthquake charge.

Mayor Bob Parker says the highlight of this Three Year Plan is not a single digit rates increase or a new facility or a big-ticket item - it's the fact the Council is paying its way using a sound financial plan.

"We'll get Christchurch back and better than ever within a generation. And that's without selling off our revenue earning assets or facing massive rates increases, while at the same time keeping our debt at an affordable level."

A $4.8 billion cost-sharing deal between the Crown and the Council announced yesterday provides certainty around funding, allowing the Council to sign-off on this Three Year Plan.

As a result of the cost-sharing arrangement, the Council's contribution to the rebuilding of horizontal infrastructure (roading and underground services) has been reduced by $159 million.

The final Three Year Plan largely adopts the activities and budgets proposed in the draft plan, with some changes following submissions from members of the public, recommendations from the Mayor and proposed amendments from Councillors. These include:

* $50 million to set up a transformational project fund for betterment of facilities, with $9.9 million set aside for the Coastal Pathway Project and $15 million for the Christchurch Central Library.
* $2 million to buy land for stage one of the South West Recreation and Sports Centre.
* $830,000 for partial completion of a non-loop Central City tram link between New Regent Street, Re:Start Mall and Canterbury Museum following a feasibility investigation and report back to the Council by September 2013.
* $5.47 million for the review of the District Plan.
* Up to $10 million for a 100 per cent rebate on development contributions for residential developments in the Central City that have been reviewed by the Urban Design Panel and are under construction by July 2015.
* Clarifications to the Development Contributions Policy including allowing the amalgamation of credits on one development site and requiring the Council to use development contribution cash within 10 years.
* Confirmation of major organisations receiving grants from the Strengthening Communities Fund totalling $1.475 million a year for two years.
* A $2 million interest-free loan for five years from 2013/4 to assist the Theatre Royal Charitable Trust with the cost of reconstructing the Isaac Theatre Royal.
* $500,000 for a relocatable facility for community groups at Beckenham or another agreed site.
* $250,000 for urgent projects identified in the Cemeteries Master Plan.
* $250,000 for a feasibility study into the concept of a sports hub, such as the hub being proposed at Nga Puna Wai, a reserve beside the Canterbury Agricultural Park.
* $46,000 over three years for an upgrade of the Garden of Tane in Akaroa, funded by a reduction of 10 per cent to the Stanley Park and Robinsons Bay budgets.
* Up to $150,000 to cover half the cost of traffic lights at an intersection in Redcliffs near the site proposed for a supermarket rebuild, subject to Foodstuffs matching the Council's contribution.
* $15,000 for a project to improve boating safety at the public facilities in Naval Point.
* $15,000 for the New Brighton Business and Landowners' Association.
* $69,000 for the Council's engagement strategy.

Other recommendations included:
* Staff to investigate and report back on the costs and process for providing free wi-fi in core areas of the central city
* Staff to urgently investigate possible rates relief and financial incentives for listed heritage buildings
* A request for a report on funding and an expression of support for Scarborough Paddling Pool being rebuilt and reopening for the 2013/14 summer.

The final version of the Three Year Plan will be available via the Council's website, libraries and service centres within a month.

- ends -

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