Christchurch City Council staff are recommending a revised budget that provides for an average residential rate rise of 2.23 per cent and an overall rate increase of 3.5 per cent.
For an average house with a value of $508,608 that would mean paying an extra $1.19 a week, or $62.05 a year.
The Draft 2020-21 Annual Plan that the Council was in the process of consulting on when the country went into lockdown provided for a 4.65 per cent rate increase.
“We recognised that we had to reduce the average rate increase of 4.65 per cent proposed in our initial draft plan given the gravity of the situation that the organisation and our ratepayers are facing,’’ says Council Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale.
“The revised plan we will be recommending to Council reflects the very different financial position and social and economic environment we are now in as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.’’
The recommended budget caps capital spending at $400 million, reduces the organisation’s running costs by $23 million, and increases the borrowing by $102 million.
It also sets aside $118 million for the Metro Sports Facility and Multi-Use Arena.
“From the outset, we were clear that we did not want to make significant changes to the levels of service set in the 2018-19 Long Term Plan, which could not have been changed without triggering a lengthy consultation process,’’ Mrs Baxendale says.
“We scrutinised everything to identify the $23 million in savings across the organisation, came up with 264 potential savings, and ranked these based on their impact to our residents and the city’s recovery, not triggering a Long Term Plan process, and ease of implementation.
“It was advantageous to be able to factor in the findings of our Annual Residents Survey released last Friday, which show that people expect a certain standard of service from the Council and that we need to continue to invest in core infrastructure such as roads and water,’’ Mrs Baxendale says.
The operational savings put forward in the recommended budget option have been achieved through finding efficiencies across the organisation and implementing new measures such as a recruitment and proposed wage freeze, reduced use of consultants and contractors, and savings to staff travel and training along with printing and marketing.
“We have been very mindful of balancing the need to maintain levels of service for the city’s residents with the need to cut costs to reflect post-COVID economic environment,’’ Mrs Baxendale says.
The Council will consider the budget recommendations at an Extraordinary Council meeting on Friday at 9.30am. The meeting will be live-streamed so people can follow the decision-making.
Once a revised Draft 2020-21 Annual Plan has been adopted, a new round of public consultation will be undertaken, starting on 12 June.
The Council is not due to finalise the budget until the end of July.