Environment Canterbury completes deliberations
The Council today concluded deliberations on the Annual Plan 2019-20, Fees & Charges Policy, Revenue & Financing Policy, and rates for the coming financial year.
The draft plan (year two of the current Long-Term Plan 2018-28) was made available for community and stakeholder feedback in February/March, alongside proposed changes to two of the Council’s policies (Fees & Charges and Revenue & Financing).
While no significant changes were proposed to the type of activity or strategic direction, the draft Annual Plan proposed an increase in rates equivalent* to around $25 per year for an urban Christchurch property valued at $570k, in order to increase spending across priority areas of freshwater management and biodiversity, and support service improvements in public transport.
Council prioritises transport, freshwater, biodiversity and biosecurity spending
Feedback on the two policies and the draft Annual Plan was broadly supportive of the increased expenditure across the majority of work, and the proposed decrease in expenditure on air quality work (due to the reduced need as community action over recent years has seen the air quality improve significantly across most airsheds).
The largest proportion of the increase is in public transport – in part due to increasing external costs to run the same service and in part to allow for there to be incremental improvements to the current service.
There was also an increase of around $4million across freshwater management and biodiversity proposed in the draft Annual Plan.
Input from the community during the hearings has added marginally to the rates increase in the draft plan, with Council today supporting an overall 10.51% increase** on 2018/19 rates.
Four per cent is for public transport – including additional funding to respond to the recent Employment Relations Act changes – the remainder is for freshwater management, biodiversity, inflation and a number of smaller work programmes across the portfolios.
This equates to an additional $33 per year for the sample $570k urban Christchurch household noted above (vs the $25 per year proposed in the draft plan).
“While it would be fair to say that there is always a high degree of discomfort with any rates increase and everybody around our Council table wants to keep rates as low as possible, there was general agreement that the increase is needed to keep our programmes moving at the rate the community has asked for – particularly to support public transport and the role that plays in getting more people moving around without the impact of more vehicles on the road, and our strategic imperatives of freshwater management and biodiversity”, says Chair Steve Lowndes.
The final Annual Plan and two policy documents will be adopted at the 20 June Council meeting.
A summary of feedback can be found in the 16 May Council agenda papers.
*Rates for each property in the region are based on a mix of general rates (charged to everyone) and targeted rates (charged for targeted work or to a targeted geographical area). Location and property value influence the exact amount charged. The Regional Council’s rates are collected via the territorial authority (e.g. Christchurch City Council, Ashburton District Council) where the property is located i.e. it shows on the rates bill from the resident’s local council.
** This is the percentage by which the total rates revenue will increase, not the amount each individual’s rates will increase – see note above.