Thursday, June 13, 2024

Christchurch Council floats $3.7b water investment plan

Christchurch City Council is proposing a $3.774 billion investment to upgrade and protect the city’s water networks and transport infrastructure over the next 10 years.

In its draft 10 year budget to be considered next week, it is also proposing an average residential rates increase for 2021/22 of 4.59%, which equates to an extra $2.51 a week on average. It is lower than the 5% average residential rates increase proposed in the Draft Long Term Plan 2021–31 that was released for consultation in March.

The average rates increase for all ratepayers which is now proposed for 2021/22 is 4.85%. The average rates increase for all ratepayers proposed in the Draft Long Term Plan that went out for public consultation was 5.56%, Council said in a statement.

It said community feedback from more than 2,300 groups and individuals had also prompted a number of proposed changes to the Draft Long Term Plan that Council consulted on.

The recommended changes are outlined in a report that will be considered by elected members at a special Council meeting on 21 and 23 June, at which the Long Term Plan 2021–31 will be finalised.

“We have listened to our community. Some very clear themes came through in the submissions which have influenced the recommendations I am making,” Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

“It was not surprising that there was a real sense that we needed to future-proof our city and district in this Long Term Plan, recognising the impacts climate change would impose. Public and active transport were supported in submissions, alongside the need to maintain investment in roads and footpaths.

 “The other theme that came through was a strong desire across a range of communities wanting to partner with us, so that together we could achieve much more.

“After feedback from the community, I’m also recommending that we don’t go ahead with some of the proposed changes to our levels of service outlined in the Draft Long Term Plan, such as closing the Riccarton Bus Lounges,” she said.

Other proposed changes to the Draft Long Term Plan 2021–31 consulted on include:

  • Deferring a review of the Land Drainage Targeted Rate for one year to allow reconsideration and further consultation.
  • An additional $11 million over 10 years for a number of climate change and environmental initiatives. This includes extending funding for Enviroschools Canterbury at $75,000 per year to allow more Christchurch schools to access this education programme.
  • Increased partnerships with other organisations.
  • Allocating $24,000 a year to each of the Akaroa and Lyttelton service centres to allow face-to-face customer service to continue.
  • Maintaining the current opening hours at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetῡ and continuing to offer the same amount of education programmes for public and school groups.
  • Continuing the mobile library service for now and undertaking targeted consultation with users to develop alternative service options. Keeping Tῡranga open on five public holidays and until 8pm on weekdays.
  • Providing a lease to Wharenui Swim Club for Wharenui Pool and the stadium, and for staff to continue to work in partnership with the club to develop an operational and capital plan.

“I’m pleased that we have been able to keep the rates increase at this level while maintaining our investment in critical infrastructure and services. Since the Draft Long Term Plan was published, our rating base has grown which means we’re expecting to bring in more income via rates,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

“We’re also expecting an improved dividend from our trading company Transwaste and have had to borrow less to meet the COVID-19 shortfall due to prudent financial management in this financial year.

“All of these factors have enabled us to offset some of the changes that have been included as a result of the feedback we’ve received from our community.”

The Mayor is also recommending the Council:

  • Proceeds with its proposal to charge an excess water charge for households that use significantly more water than average. This charge would apply to any household that uses more than 700 litres a day. If the decision is made to go ahead with the excess water charge, it will be implemented in stages.
  • Proceeds with the overall investment level proposed in the Draft Long Term Plan of $1.445 billion over 10 years in our transport network.
  • Proceeds with the overall investment of $2.3 billion proposed in the Draft Long Term Plan for upgrading and protecting our Three Waters networks, with minor adjustments.
  • Proceeds with a heritage targeted rate, which will provide a clearer picture of the portion of the rates that people already pay towards specific heritage projects.
  • Goes ahead with a targeted rate for the Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora to provide a $5.5 million capital grant.
  • Implements a targeted rate on business properties in the central city to fund the Council’s annual grant to the Central City Business Association.
  • Includes additional funding of $11.8 million in the Long Term Plan 2021–31 for the base isolation of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery.

Latest Articles