21 Jun 2016

Chch councillors debate another rates hike

11:52 am on 21 June 2016

Christchurch City councillors are today debating the organisation's budget for the coming financial year, including yet another sizable rates hike.

Christchurch construction.

The Christchurch City Council is debating the annual plan which includes a rates hike. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The annual plan asks for a five percent rates rise as the city continues to struggle to meet the cost of rebuilding after the 2011 earthquakes.

A lot rides on this year's budget given this is an election year.

The rates rise is less than the seven percent increase originally proposed last year as part of the long term plan.

Today's debate also covers a proposed rewrite of the long term plan which now looks to cap rates hikes at five percent a year for the next three years.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The budget also places on hold further asset sales which are are not due to resume until the following financial year and have been scaled back from $750 to $600 million.

The council was in a much stronger financial position, thanks in part to its receipt of a $635m earthquake insurance payout, mayor Lianne Dalziel said at the time the change was first announced.

Andrew Turner, head of the left-leaning faction of councillors known as People's Choice, said the council had listened to public opinion which was mostly against asset sales.

Andrew Turner was one of those to cut the ribbon and officially open the square.

Andrew Turner Photo: RNZ / Nicola Grigg

"Once shares in a company are sold then the ability of the dividend from those companies to keep the rates down is then lost permanently.

"I certainly take the view that it's prudent for us to be avoiding the sale of assets," he said.

However the sale of the council owned roading and maintenance company, City Care, would still go ahead, with a buyer expected to be announced soon.

The final vote on the proposed budget will happen on Thursday to give audit New Zealand time to review it.

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