1 Apr 2020

Christchurch businesses and property owners who are financially hurting because of the COVID-19 lockdown could get an extra six months to pay their rates.

“We are very conscious of the financial stress that many ratepayers in our city are under so on Thursday 2 April we will be bringing a report to the Council which recommends offering rates relief to our residents,’’ says Christchurch City Council Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale.

“With rates bills due to go out over the next few weeks, it is important that we don’t exacerbate the financial pressures facing many ratepayers.

“The Crown, banks and other organisations are recognising that a large number of households and businesses will be affected by the Covid-19 Level 4 Lockdown and associated restrictions by offering financial measures to support people and encourage a swift return to normality

“We have been talking with Local Government New Zealand and the other metropolitan Councils around the country about how we too can support businesses and residents through these difficult times.

“As a result of those discussions, staff are recommending the Council extend the due date for the next rates instalment – rates instalment 4 – by up to six months for all eligible ratepayers,’’ Mrs Baxendale says.

Under the proposed scheme, businesses that can show their revenue has declined by 30 per cent, or more, because of the COVID-19 emergency response will be eligible for the rates relief. The Government uses the same criteria for its wage subsidy scheme.

Owners of residential properties who have lost their job or who qualify for Government subsidised wages will also be eligible for rates relief.

To make accessing the rates relief as easy as possible, people will be asked to supply the same information that the Government is requiring for its assistance programmes.

Staff are also recommending the Council offer a number of its commercial tenants a three-month rent holiday.

Mrs Baxendale says the proposed rates relief scheme and rent holiday is part of a far-reaching recovery package the Council and its trading companies are working on to help the city bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.

“Aligned with central Government, we want to ensure we provide fast, effective support to our local businesses. We are working on a Christchurch Economic Recovery Package which includes a range of short and long-term measures to provide social and economic support for the people of Christchurch.

“As part of this package we are looking at how we can use infrastructure projects to help support our economic recovery. We are also looking at rolling out programmes to reactivate our visitor economy, when the time is right.

“ChristchurchNZ will play a key role in the delivery of this package, with its work programme re-focused on rebounding our economy,’’ Mrs Baxendale says.

“The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are going to be felt for a very long time. Most businesses and organisations are going to take a financial hit and Christchurch City Council will not be immune.

“We will need to re-think our budgets and our capital works programme, but our immediate priority is the wellbeing of our ratepayers,’’ Mrs Baxendale says.

Read the Council report.