Rates relief divisive issue

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2012

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Christchurch residents forced out of their red-zoned homes deserve rates relief, but other householders should not have to pick up the tab, The Press local issues survey shows.

The responses also reveal slightly more support than opposition for the Christchurch City Council's proposed 7.47 per cent rates increase.

The Opinions Market Research poll of 359 Christchurch City and Waimakariri and Selwyn district residents was taken at the start of this month.

Asked if rates relief was appropriate for those with houses in the city's residential red zone, 88 per cent said homeowners not now living in their red-zoned houses should get full rates relief. Only 9 per cent believed they were not entitled to such relief.

Attitudes were different to homeowners who were living in red-zoned properties, with 40 per cent of respondents saying those residents should be eligible for full rates relief but 50 per cent considering they should not get a bean.

Of the 110 who made extra comments, 62 per cent said rates relief should depend on services received at the property and 43 per cent said a partial rebate would be more appropriate than full relief.

Respondents were asked what they thought about people living outside the residential red zone paying more rates to make up the shortfall. Sixty-seven per cent were opposed (39 per cent disagreeing strongly) and 31 per cent agreed with it, although 27 per cent agreed only slightly.

Opinions Market Research director Karen Selway said analysis showed those with dependent children were particularly averse to covering the revenue gap.

The city council's proposed total rates rise of 7.47 per cent – comprising a 3.71 per cent standard services component, a 1.76 per cent earthquake levy and a one-off 2 per cent facilities rebuild fee for 10 major redevelopment projects – was acceptable to 50 per cent of the wider sample, while 47 per cent disagreed with it, 30 per cent disagreeing strongly.

There was overwhelming support (89 per cent) for turning red-zoned residential land into public green spaces. Thirteen per cent favoured walk and cycleways, 3 per cent wanted memorials and 2 per cent wanted farming.

Highlighting the lack of support for rebuilding on the land, a woman in the 18-29 age group said the land should be "returned to nature, should never have been built on in the first place". One in the 30-59 age group said, "It should never be built on again."

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