Financial matters  |  31 Jan 2023

Councillors have been briefed today on Christchurch City Council’s efforts to keep 2023’s rates increase as low as possible – with the latest projected figure coming in at an average 5.58% across existing ratepayers.

Work began last year on the Council’s budget for the coming 12 months, the Draft Annual Plan 2023/24. At that stage, the initial projected rates increase was 14.6%.

“My staff have done an incredible job of getting the projected rates increase down to well under the 7% or so of inflation we’re seeing worldwide, in a very tricky economic environment we’re all very familiar with – inflation, high interest rates, and labour and supply issues,” says Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale.

“What makes it all the more impressive is that we’ve been able to do it all while keeping up the services Christchurch has come to expect, and continuing to invest in the city’s future.”

Watch the briefing or see the presentation.

This reduction has been made through a combination of proposed changes to the budget, including:

  • Confirming what can realistically be delivered in the Council’s capital programme in light of the current economic challenges, and lowering the planned core programme spend from $597 million to $439 million.
  • Minor fee increases for some groups using the Council’s community facilities.
  • Providing for higher-than-expected growth in the Christchurch rating base following significant new subdivisions and development over the last year.
  • Some one-off actions including leaving some staff vacancies unfilled for 2023/24, using some of the Capital Endowment Fund for grants that would normally be funded by rates, and updating the Council’s tax subvention receipts.

“Some of our cost-saving measures are one-off things that we won't necessarily be able to do in future years, but Christchurch residents are feeling the cost of living pressure right now, and we need to do all we can to reduce the impact that rates bills have on households,” Mrs Baxendale says.

“We need to keep an eye to the future. For example, the openings of Parakiore Recreation and Sport Centre and Matatiki: Hornby Centre have been delayed, so we don’t need to charge rates to cover those operating costs for now – but that will impact our rating when we start into the Long Term Plan 2024–34 next year. It’s something to keep in mind as this Draft Annual Plan goes out for consultation in March.”

Some of the big changes to the Council’s Long Term Plan 2021–31 that are likely to be consulted on as part of the Draft Annual Plan 2023/24 are:

  • Investing in a coordinated effort to attract major events to Christchurch, which if included in the Annual Plan will account for 0.32% of the rates increase. With new opportunities presented by the completion of Te Pae, Te Kaha, Parakiore etc., this will enable Christchurch’s agencies to plan together for maximum benefit.
  • Creating a roving pothole repair team, which will account for 0.16% of the rates increase.
  • A proposed increase to the differential on business property rates to help mitigate the impact of the latest revaluation and keep the proportion of rates paid by business properties the same. See more on that here.

Councillors and staff will continue to refine the Draft Annual Plan 2023/24 for the next month, before it’s adopted by the Council on 28 February. It will go out for public feedback from 10 March – 10 April.