There has been publicity lately about the level of rates increases that Christchurch has faced over recent years.
The level of overdue rates looked a lot worse than it actually was, in part due to the Crown owing rates on residential red zone land it owns.
That’s been sorted and what was technically overdue has been paid. A much clearer picture comes from rates that are more than six months overdue. A number of people just forget to pay by the due date, and they pay with the first reminder.
This is not me making an excuse for rates increases. I want the city council to get on top of its expenditure so we can return to the inflationary pressures the council faces as a preferred cap for rates increases.
Our next draft Long Term Plan, which we will sign off early in the new year for public consultation, will look different from the last one three years ago. First, we know more about our finances and our insurance is settled.
This time I intend to split the rates into two parts – the percentage increase for the standard work of the city council (business as usual), and the other, a fixed amount per ratepayer over a set number of years, to provide for the remaining repairs, new builds and regeneration opportunities that are required post the earthquakes.
I prefer this approach, because it enables everyone to see what the real costs of the remaining effects of the earthquakes will be. It also means the costs of the earthquakes has a finite impact on ratepayers. I believe this is a much more transparent approach and it’s fairer. It also puts responsibility on the city council as an organisation to ensure efficient and effective service delivery.
We have already met as a full city council with Megan Woods, and the deputy mayor and I have also met with Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahutu. Aligning our strategic priorities as a city council with the new Government presents no problems that I can see.
The next step is a meeting with a group of ministers, hopefully before Christmas, which will set us on the path to a global settlement. We are both talking acceleration and I believe that’s good for Christchurch and for New Zealand.
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