Christchurch rates tipped to rise 6.6%

21:39, Feb 25 2013

Christchurch homeowners face having to fork out just under $8 a week to fix the city's roads and footpaths under a city council blueprint to be debated today.

Tapping into the city's water supply will set the average homeowner back another $1, while getting the wheelie bin emptied each week will cost them the price of a cup of coffee.

The blueprint for the city - formally known as the proposed draft Christchurch City Three Year Plan - has been drawn up by Christchurch City Council staff and recommends rates in Christchurch rise by an average of 6.6 per cent from July.

That increase includes a special earthquake levy - the equivalent of a 1.93 per cent rate rise - which will be used by the council to help offset the increased borrowing costs it faces as a result of the earthquakes.

Rate increases of about 6.5 per cent a year are also forecast for the following two years.

If the blueprint is adopted by the council it will mean the average ratepayer in Christchurch will pay $36.29 a week in rates from July. The biggest chunk of that money will go towards maintaining the city's roads and footpaths.


Over the next year the council is proposing to invest $850 million in its capital programme, with another $2 billion forecast to be spent in the following two years.

According to the blueprint, the council still needs to replace 100 kilometres of water mains, several hundred kilometres of sub-mains and 600 kilometres of gravity sewers.

It also needs to rebuild six wastewater pump stations. The earthquakes have also damaged 1000km of Christchurch's street network, of which 42km is severely damaged.

More than 50,000 individual road faults have been recorded on 45 per cent of roads in Christchurch.

Six bridges are beyond economic repair, 15 require major refurbishment and 50 require medium to minor repairs.

The council also needs to rebuild two sports and recreation facilities, the Town Hall, the central library and the Convention Centre, at a total estimated cost of $767m. It also has to replace several hundred of its 2645 social housing units.

The high costs coincide with a $1.5b fall in the city's rating base.

The council collects rates from properties based on their capital value. Before the quakes the value of property in Christchurch subject to rates was growing about 1 per cent, or $3m, a year thanks to building activity across the residential and commercial sectors.

But that growth has dramatically reversed since the quakes, with latest council projections suggesting that by June the city's capital value will have dropped by more than $1.5b because of demolitions of 2200 residential properties (valued at $536m) and 1300 commercial properties (valued at $1b).

Christchurch City Council corporate services manager Paul Anderson says as the rebuild gets under way and developments reach the market, the rating base will begin to grow again.

The council meeting to consider the proposed draft Three Year Plan is scheduled to run for two days.

The Press