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Environment Canterbury Adopts 2020/21 Annual Plan

Council rates balance COVID recovery and environment priorities

Today the Environment Canterbury Council formally adopted the 2020/21 Annual Plan and set the rates for the coming year (1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021).

Council will increase its total rates revenue by 4% in the 2020/21 financial year. This is 5.8% less than originally proposed when the draft plan was put out for community feedback. Savings were made by using cash reserves and reducing reserve cash build-up for flood protection and general activities. Lower inflation estimates post-COVID also reduce rates. Reducing cash reserves may mean borrowing to cover the costs of unforeseen events, like floods.

The 4% refers to the increase in the total amount received from rates from 2019/20. It includes 2.3% for inflation, an additional 0.8% for public transport service improvements, and provision for spending on priority work programmes for the coastal environment plan (0.5%), climate engagement (0.15%) and a tree planting and regeneration initiative (0.25%).

Individual ratepayers pay different rates depending on the size and location of their property*. The rates increase is equivalent to about $6 per year for an urban Christchurch property valued at $580k and $22 per year for an urban Rangiora property of $400k. Householders in urban properties in Kaikōura, Hurunui and Ashburton districts district will see a reduction in their rates.

Deputy Chair Peter Scott chaired the Council meeting, and noted the need to recognise the impact of COVID-19 on the region, as a great deal has changed between the time the Council signed off the draft plan for engagement in February, and adopting the final version today.

“We are acting decisively now to invest in the future, but we are also tempering the rate of change in some areas to accommodate the post-COVID recovery that the region needs,” Scott says.

“There has been robust debate around the Council table over the last couple of months about how much can we continue to press forward with our longer-term initiatives, against taking into account the unprecedented post-COVID economic climate.

“We have reached the position we have in large part based on the feedback we had on the draft plan, and more importantly during the hearings that we held (online) during the COVID period when we heard about what we should continue to push with urgency, and what has changed externally that impacts the ability of the community to pay.

“The Council wishes to thank all those who gave us feedback during the process.”

Read the full release here.

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