Christchurch City Council will consult with the public next month on a revised budget which takes into account the financial fall-out from the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are going back to the drawing board with our Draft 2020-21 Annual Plan because the upheaval of the COVID-19 crisis has significantly changed our financial position and the financial position of many of our ratepayers,’’ says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
“As elected members we are going to have to make some tough decisions in the coming weeks about how we can support our city’s recovery without putting too much added financial pressure on our residents and our businesses.
“All aspects of our budget are going to have to come under scrutiny and we will need to make some difficult calls about where and when we spend money and what levels of service the organisation provides,’’ the Mayor says.
Council staff are investigating a range of options for reworking the budget, which originally provided for an overall rate increase of 4.65 per cent. That rate increase was on track to be reduced to 4.33 per cent as a result of savings being identified and growth in the rating base, before the COVID-19 crisis hit.
The COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown though has had a significant impact on the Council’s finances – particularly on the amount of dividends it will receive from its commercial arm, Christchurch City Holdings Limited - and it is now forecasting an end of financial year operating deficit of $33.2 million.
“There are differing views around the Council table as to how much we need to cut our operational and capital expenditure to rein in our budget. Councillors have asked for all options – including the option of a nil rate increase – to be put on the table so that we can make informed decisions about what is best for our city’s recovery,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.
The Council will hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday 29 May to consider a budget. The meeting will be live-streamed so residents can follow the decision-making.
“Once we have adopted a revised Draft 2020-21 Annual Plan we will again invite our communities to give their feedback. This consultation process will run from Friday 12 June until Monday 29 June. We will provide more details on how people can give their feedback closer to the time.
"The time constraints will be challenging for Councillors and submitters alike, which is why we have sought additional advice for the next Council meeting. Residents and organisations, who have already made submissions will have those submissions considered and don’t have to make another submission.
“We are working towards being in a position to adopt the 2020-21 Annual Plan by end of July,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.