Huge rates hike on the way for Christchurch

Christchurch city councillors voted on Tuesday to put the council’s provisional draft Long Term Plan, which includes a 13.24 per cent rate increase, out for public consultation.

The city council is proposing an increase of 13.2 per cent this year, slightly down from the almost 16 per cent hike originally on the table.

This includes 2.17 per cent for Te Kaha, Canterbury’s Multi-Use Arena.

But it's not a one-off rise. Another rates hike of 8.2 per cent is proposed for the following year.

Central Ward Councillor Jake McLellan said it was really challenging times for the city.

"We've got the triple impact of inflation, insurance and interest rate rises. That's actually adding about 10% to our base costs... so 10 per cent increase just to stand still."

Councillors have been meeting this month to work their way through a massive 120 amendments to the city's long-term plan, the council's budget for the next decade.

Ratepayers contributed $453m to the construction of the $683m Te Kaha multi-use arena, adding 2...
Ratepayers contributed $453m to the construction of the $683m Te Kaha multi-use arena, adding 2.17% to their rates.
McLellan insists they're working hard to find savings, without impacting on core frontline services.

"It's tough across the whole country, not just Christchurch".

And while the rates hikes would be high in the first two years, the council is forecasting those increases would drop to about 4 per cent after that. The cumulative rates increase over the next decade was forecast to be 53.6%.

One of the major areas to blame for the big bills is Christchurch's $683 million multi-use arena Te Kaha, which is on track to open in early 2026.

The council has now committed a total of $453 million to the project, after construction costs continued to rise.

"People overwhelmingly said we want this and we want to get on and build it. I think 80% of people said that they wanted it. That was always going to come at a cost that we have to share."

But he admits the rates figure isn't an acceptable one, and said councillors will be doing more work to try and trim the numbers further.

"People are concerned about rates, but they're also concerned about cuts to services, and we want to make sure we get the balance exactly right of affordability and service".

The full council is due to meet on March 11 to formally adopt the draft Long Term Plan, which will then go out for public submissions.

- By Geoff Sloan, made with the support of NZ On Air