4 Apr 2014

Govt checks may cost ratepayers

4:40 pm on 4 April 2014

Local councils say a new government plan may mean ratepayers end up paying to assess the earthquake-safety of buildings in their community.

Engineers check a concrete tower at risk of toppling.

Engineers check a concrete tower at risk of toppling. Photo: RNZ

The Government's proposal to introduce a nationwide strength standard has been met with resistance from areas of the country which have a low-quake risk.

The Auckland Council says it could cost the city a billion dollars, with a recent GNS science report estimating that would save only one life in a major earthquake in the next one-thousand years.

The head of Local Government New Zealand, Lawrence Yule, says many other councils have concerns about the cost they could incur.

Mr Yule says the cost of strengthening old buildings in low quake-risk, rural South Island communities, could be prohibitive.

And Dunedin's mayor Dave Cull says the plan shifts the responsibility from building owners to councils.

Under the change, he says the council would have to pay for assessments, ultimately at the ratepayers' expense.