Moves to stem impact of crisis on ratepayers

Photo: Geoff Sloan
Photo: Geoff Sloan
Christchurch City Council's emergency committee will meet this week to discuss how it can minimise the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on ratepayers.

A city council spokeswoman said a number of matters relating to the outbreak and lockdown, including the impact on ratepayers, will be discussed during the meeting on Thursday.

Two members of the committee are required to be physically in a room together for the meeting and it will have the decision-making authority of the council.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel told NewstalkZB's Chris Lynch the council will try to address how the immediate situation is impacting ratepayers.

"People who have got rates bills falling due, we need to have an immediate solution to that," she said. 

"It won't be the long term solution that people will want but it will give people some confidence that we are not going to be applying penalties and not putting pressure on people to pay their rates at this time."

Lianne Dalziel. Photo: Supplied
Lianne Dalziel. Photo: Supplied
The city council is proposing an average rates increase of 4.65 per cent across all ratepayers in this year’s draft Annual Plan, which is out for public consultation until April 5 and set to be finalised before July 1.

The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan also predicts a 50 per cent rates increase over 10 years

The committee meeting on Thursday comes after six city councillors called for the brakes to go on rates increases in response to the outbreak.

City councillors James Gough, Sam MacDonald, Catherine Chu, Phil Mauger, Aaron Keown and James Daniels sent a letter to Dalziel asking her to lead a conversation on how a zero per cent rates increase could be achieved this year.

Said MacDonald: “In the current environment it’s clear business as usual is not appropriate and the council needs to look at how we enable this 12-month rates increase freeze to occur.

"It’s crucial for the economic confidence of our city.”

Dalziel said the last thing the city council needs is for someone to hit the panic button.

“Calm heads must and will prevail,” she said.

“Our residents and businesses will be depending on us to make adjustments, and we will.

"However, we will need advice on the impacts on all aspects of the council’s budget, which is not entirely funded by rates, and the consequences that will flow from decisions we make.

“The Annual Plan is not signed off for three months so we have time to get this advice. At the same time, the council is meeting with our economic development agency, ChristchurchNZ, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and other key players so we are best prepared for the economic challenges that lie ahead.”

Calls are increasing for a zero per cent rates rise. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Calls are increasing for a zero per cent rates rise. Photo: Geoff Sloan
City council chief executive Dawn Baxendale has not ruled out a zero per cent rates increase.

“We’re considering a series of options in light of the extraordinary circumstances related to Covid-19.

"We will discuss these options with elected members as we develop the Annual Plan,” she said.

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