The Christchurch City Council is proposing raising rates by an average of 5.5 per cent from July this year, which is below what was forecast for 2018-19 in the previous Long Term Plan 2015-2025.
For the average house in Christchurch, valued at just over $500,000, the proposed increase would equate to an extra $2.64 a week.
A proposal to introduce a new targeted rate to cover the Council’s $10 million special heritage contribution towards the reinstatement of Christ Church Cathedral is also included in the draft Long Term Plan. The rate is proposed to be applied annually at $7.19 per property for 10 years.
The proposed rate increase is outlined in the Council’s draft Long Term Plan (LTP), which sets out the Council’s work programme and priorities for the next 10 years.
Under the draft LTP, which will be considered by the Council at a special meeting on Wednesday before it goes out for public consultation, average rate increases would gradually decline from 2019-20.
The community will be encouraged to give their feedback on the Plan in March and April ahead of the Council finalising it in June.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the Council faces some difficult decisions as it works to complete the repair/rebuild of the infrastructure damaged by the earthquakes while also trying to keep rates as low as possible.
“We need to have a serious conversation with the community about what we prioritise in this Long Term Plan, what we might defer and what we might look at doing differently.’’
Mayor Dalziel says the Council’s biggest challenge relates to infrastructure, with a planned investment over 10 years of $4.18 billion.
“This is partly because so much of the earthquake damage was not repaired under the SCIRT programme and the land drainage recovery programme was not covered by the Cost Sharing Agreement,’’ she says.
“We will be asking people during our consultation period whether we have hit the right balance between rates affordability and how quickly we get this work done.
“We could do some of this work over a shorter timeframe than we have set out in the draft LTP but to do that we either have to defer or drop some projects to free up funding or we have to increase rates more,’’ the Mayor says.
Included in the draft LTP is a summary of a report commissioned from Deloitte showing the cost to date and predicted ongoing cost of the earthquakes.
“Deloitte calculates the total cost of the earthquakes will be more than $10 billion,’’ says the Mayor.
“That is a significant burden for a city the size of Christchurch and helps to explain why we have had to prioritise some things over others.’’
Our draft LTP includes our plan for such things as improving our roads, reducing the flood risk in vulnerable areas of the city, funding new facilities, completing the major cycle routes, maintaining and renewing water supply infrastructure, and maintaining our parks, riverbanks and coastal environment.