26 Jun 2015

Rates rise and asset sales for Christchurch

6:02 pm on 26 June 2015

Christchurch City Council has voted unanimously to raise rates over the next four years by more than 27 percent.

The view down Worcester Street looking away from the Christchurch Cathedral.

The rebuild of Christchurch's CBD Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The increase is to pay for a $1.2 billion budget shortfall as the city struggles to pay for its post earthquake rebuild.

Lianne Dalziel

Lianne Dalziel Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

As well as the increases, the council today voted to go ahead with selling $750 million worth of council-owned assets.

The assets include the infrastructure company, City Care, Red Bus and council-owned carparking buildings.

The port, the airport and the lines company, Orion, have been classed as strategic assets and can not be sold without a further period of consultation.

The changes are part of the city's long term plan which sets out the council's spending priorities over the next 10 years.

Peoples Choice-aligned members of the council spoke strongly against asset sales as the council voted eight to six in favour of the move.

The head of the Peoples Choice faction Andrew Turner said "flogging off the family silver" was not what the people of Christchurch asked for when they were consulted on the plan.

"We've now heard from the people of Christchurch - we've heard that an overwhelming majority said that they did not support the selling of assets in our companies.

"And it's for that reason that I cannot support those parts of the plan that allow that to happen."

He said it did not make sense to sell assets that returned a dividend to the council.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel promised to work hard to bring down rates next year.

The plan that passed today includes an 8 percent average rates rise from next month, followed by increases of between 5 and 7 percent for the three years after that.

Ms Dalziel said she hoped next year to be able to reduce the burden ratepayers are being asked to shoulder as the city struggles to pay for its post-earthquake rebuild.

"I'm going to be absolutely committed to ensuring that the rates increase for the following year is absolutely reduced to the bare minimum," she said.

"I'm not satisfied with the number we've got to in that regard."

Ms Dalziel said the council should have a better idea of its financial position when it comes to making a final decision on next year's rates.

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