27 Jun 2012

Christchurch council confirms 7.8% rates rise

8:40 am on 27 June 2012

Christchurch City Council has approved its 2012-13 annual plan after two days of deliberations.

The plan confirms a 7.8% rates rise and partial rates relief for residents whose properties have been left uninhabitable by the earthquakes.

Protest group Cantabrians Unite says the rates rise is unaffordable, and that the council should be offering full rates relief on uninhabitable homes before focussing on major building projects.

Mayor Bob Parker told Morning Report such householders will pay rates only on the value of their land.

The plan also outlines the future of 10 major community facilities, most of which are in the central city.

The future of those facilities is still dependent on the outcome of the Christchurch Central Development Unit's blueprint for the central city, which is not due out until later this year.

Covered stadium voted against

Canterbury Rugby Football Union is disappointed the Christchurch City Council has voted against building a large-scale covered stadium in the city but says all is not lost.

On the first day of debate on the draft plan on Monday, councillors voted eight to 6 against the 35,000 seat covered stadium the Canterbury Rugby Football Union proposed.

Instead, they backed a 30,000 seat uncovered option.

CRFU chief executive Hamish Riach says Christchurch will now no longer be able to compete with Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin for major events.

But he says he's hoping this isn't the final decision, given the Christchurch Central Development Unit is yet to unveil its formal blueprint for the city.

Meanwhile, a Christchurch business leader expects the Government to override the city council's decision.

Chief executive of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Peter Townsend says he personally believes the city will still get its covered stadium.

Rates relief debate

Councillors on Monday voted nine to five against the proposal that residents in Christchurch who can no longer live in their quake-hit homes get full remission of rates.

One of the councillors who voted in favour of the proposal says residents who have had to leave their homes due to rockfall have been granted full rates relief and that offer needs to be extended to other affected home owners.

Glen Livingstone says residents in uninhabitable homes should be offered the same deal, because both situations involve safety.

The council is proposing that residents who can no longer live in their homes receive a rates reduction of about 50%

Councillors also voted nine to five to delay bringing trams back into service until a report on costings is produced.

Councillor Yani Johanson said it would be premature to commit money to re-establishing the trams without knowing what the Government plans for the central city.

The debate was held despite uncertainty on the Government's plans. The Government is due to report back on its blueprint for the central city, prepared by the Christchurch Central Development Unit, at the end of July.