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Christchurch City Council opts for 7.5 per cent rates rise

25 June 2015

Christchurch City Council opts for 7.5 per cent rates rise

After a two day cost-cutting session the Christchurch City Council has settled on an average rates increase of 7.5 per cent.

The 2014/15 Annual Plan finalised by the Council today allows for total rating revenue of $351.8 million. The 7.5 per cent rates increase includes 5.55 per cent for day to day operations, and to cover higher than expected costs from improving consenting services and cleaning up after flooding.

There is also a 1.93 per cent Special Earthquake Charge to meet additional earthquake-related costs.

This means the average weekly rates bill in Christchurch will be $39.09, up from $36.37 this year; a rise of $2.72 per week.\

The 2014/15 budget was fixed by the previous Council as part of its Three Year Plan and Mayor Lianne Dalziel says it did not allow for sufficient headroom to absorb shocks such as the March storm.

“The Council found itself backed into a corner over the rates increase. Because of the loss of building accreditation we’ve had to pour millions of dollars into re-establishing this core function at a time when our need to perform has never been greater.

"I cannot take responsibility for the financial situation we inherited, but from this point on I will ensure that the Council is on a sound financial footing and is better able to bear these shocks.”

The Mayor says the public is right to be concerned about how the Council spends ratepayer money, particularly in relation to the timing and cost of some of the big ticket items.

“This is something that will be addressed in the Cameron and Partners report which will lay out the options available to us when it is released at the end of July. Now is the time to look forward and we’ll also be confronting these issues as part of the Long Term Planning process.

“This is a great opportunity for deep and meaningful public conversations about the vision for our city and for ways to build a Council that is a financially competent and resilient organisation.”

Background on the Annual Plan
In response to submissions to the Annual Plan the Council reversed some smaller budget cuts, voting to retain existing hours at Libraries and Sport and Recreation Centres. It also opted to cease its Our Christchurch publication which saved $260,000, and it agreed to review its Sister City international programme focusing only on the most strategically important trips.

Other changes included:

• Re-phasing the cycleways programme so it is finished in five years instead of eight years.
• Tram - an additional $1.69 million will be included in the capital programme to enable completion of a second tramway loop along Oxford Terrace, down Cashel Mall, High and Colombo Streets to Cathedral Square.
• Awatea Route upgrade brought forward at a cost of $699,306.
• Bringing forward $142,000 from the next financial year to complete the first two sections of Head to Head Walkway (Pony Point to Naval Point, and Allandale to Governor’s Bay).
• The cost of flooding rates remissions was reduced by $200,000 to $160,000 to reflect the number of people who will be eligible for this assistance.
• Refuse collection and disposal costs – Councillors called for a full report on the most efficient and effective delivery of refuse collection services and as part of that a localised trial into this will be conducted in 2014/15 with a view to implementation in the Long Term Plan.
• Historic Places Fund reduced by $750,000.
• Wainui Sewer Project budget reduced by $1.9 million due to lower contract costs.
• Rates remissions for the Public Realm (land designated for the “frame” in the Central City Recovery Plan) reduced by $200,000.
• Free entry to the Akaroa Museum confirmed.
• Pioneer Early Learning Centre – Council will further investigate an alternative service provider, with the service to be based on criteria set by Council, and subject to formal consultation with staff.
• Stop changing decorative banners for one year, saving $75,000. Council staff will look at sponsorship opportunities to ensure we are prepared for 2015 events to be held in
Christchurch in 2015.
• Akaroa water supply – Council staff will work with the NZ native forest Restoration Trust, the Rod Donald Trust and the Akaroa / Wairewa Community Board to develop a proposal for consideration as part of the Long Term Plan to buy a 190 reserve in Akaroa which covers the entire upper catchment of the town water supply.
• $50,000 to speed up development of the Banks Peninsula Perimeter Walkway.

The following graph indicates that Christchurch City rates still compare favourably with neighbouring local authorities and other metropolitan centres.

ENDS

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