Christchurch council settles on rates rise under 10%

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ

By Tim Brown of RNZ

Christchurch City Council has got its rates hike down to single digits - just.

The council will next week discuss signing off a 9.95 percent average rates increase.

The draft long-term plan proposed close to 16 percent, before councillors agreed to consult on a 13 percent rise.

Since the draft long-term plan went out to the public there had been further calls for funding from the likes of the Christchurch Arts Centre and Orana Park.

Mayor Phil Mauger this morning told RNZ those projects would receive funding and councillors could still keep rates below 10 percent.

"Staff have worked extremely hard - staff and councillors worked extremely hard to get it down to that. We've used a dividend from CCHL [Christchurch City Holdings Limited] to help us get down to that number cause it's a cost of living crisis," he said.

That figure included the 2.1 percent rates increase to pay for Te Kaha Stadium.

"So you take that off there, you're knocking around about 8 [percent] for the base rate," Mauger said.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger says the projected rates rise will be a dollar a day increase for the average ratepayer. Photo: RNZ
Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger says the projected rates rise will be a dollar a day increase for the average ratepayer. Photo: RNZ
"It's very easy for me to say this, but it works out to just under a dollar a day increase on the average person's rate. Now that is no comfort to some people that have got expensive homes 'cos the 10 percent on top of their rate is quite a lot. But that's what we're working on now."

In addition to the dividend from the council's commercial arm, the council would also defer some projects until later in the 10-year cycle, Mauger said.

It had allowed the council to keep services at the same level as they were now.

"We've pushed out a lot of things that we don't feel are necessary. We're still spending $900 million, so a billion dollars, on fixing our water and doing our roads and things like that . . . but it was just changing things around.

"We haven't changed levels of service - we could have, but people pay their rates and expect that level of service."

He conceded the deferrals were work which needed to be done, but argued it did not need to be done right now.

"They do need to be done at some point, but we're just pushing some of them out because what we've got is, we've got a lump in the long-term plan or the annual plans of rates because of the stadium. After two years, it starts dropping off down to a lot more digestible rate."

Asked if it amounted to the council kicking the can down the road for future ratepayers, Mauger said: "No because if you look at ... the proposed rates increases in future years, they go down to eight, and then six, and I think it actually goes down to four in one year. So we've got to get this blimp out of the way."

However, he accepted that the cost of those projects would be greater in future.

"It does get more expensive every year, cause that's inflation."

There was still a possibility the rates hike might go over 10 percent as the council would debate several smaller amendments.

The long-term plan will be finalised at a meeting on Tuesday.