With Christchurch’s projected rates increase coming in higher than expected, Councillors are having a public briefing on their budget for the coming year.
Watch the briefing here.
Consultation on the Council’s Draft Annual Plan 2023/24, which proposed an overall average rates increase of 5.68%, ran across March and April. Based on this public feedback, and some new developments which will affect the Council’s spending in the coming year, the new proposed rates increase is 7.88%.
Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale says the new figure should be looked at in the context of the wider economic environment, and the original estimated rates increase the Council faced in late 2022.
“When you look at the rates increases other councils are proposing around the country, and when you consider that the original projection last December was for a 14.6% rates increase, Christchurch City Council coming in at 7.88% is still a considerable feat. We’ve done our very best to reduce the rates increase but outside factors have impacted our ability to maintain our previously signalled increase.”
Most of the 2.2% difference between the draft and current rates figures comes down to a few factors:
- New Government water regulations have been announced since the draft budget was proposed, and the Council needs to spend more than planned to comply, including on water sampling, the backflow prevention programme, water connections and treatment.
- A few additions to the Council’s capital programme, including the timing of spending on Te Kaha, now earlier than previously planned, to ensure timeframes and budgets are met.
- The Living Wage Movement formally set a new living wage in March, after the draft budget was proposed. As a living wage accredited employer, the Council is committed to meeting this increase and has had to make an extra provision for this, as well as for staff salaries, reflecting higher inflation and market movements.
“The views that came back from the public during consultation were diverse on almost every topic – people want us to invest in Christchurch and tackle important issues, and they’re feeling pinched financially,” Mrs Baxendale says.
“If there was a message that came through clearest, it was that we need to focus on the basics – the diversity of opinion is in what those basics should be.
“This is where our elected council comes in – to weigh all the factors and strike a balance on behalf of the community when they adopt the budget.”
Councillors will debate the budget and adopt the Annual Plan on Tuesday 27 June.
Staff recommendations on some of the key issues consulted on include:
- Keeping the Excess Water Supply Targeted Rate average daily allowance at 700 litres for residential properties. Public opinion on the proposal to increase it to 900 litres was split down the middle. The proposal was included in the Draft Annual Plan, and if the allowance is kept at 700 litres, the rates increase would drop from 7.88% to 7.76%.
- Leaving the Uniform Annual General Charge at $153. Most submitters were opposed to the idea of reducing the rate to $50, which was intended to help ease the impact of rates increases for some lower income households.
- Changing the differential on business properties to 22. The value of business properties did not increase at the same rate as residential properties in the last revaluation, and this change will maintain the contribution that business properties make to general rates.
- An increased $36 million capital spend on the transport network, in part reflecting residents’ views on the need for ongoing focus on roading and enabling travel choice. The draft budget also allocates $2 million to a roving footpath maintenance crew, to give effect to the Mayor and councillors’ desire to enhance service in this area.