Services face squeeze in cost-cutting moves

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2014

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Council cost-cutting could force Christchurch libraries and recreation and sports facilities to cut back their opening hours.

In a bid to save costs, councillors are considering "non-core" service cuts in the 2014/15 draft Annual Plan.

They are investigating the option of reducing the opening hours of council-owned recreation and sports facilities by 30 minutes a day and introducing a standard closing time for libraries of 6pm, with the exception of one late night each for the Fendalton, Upper Riccarton and South libraries.

The possible cuts come as the council faces a larger-than-forecast operating deficit and a declining rating base.

At a workshop on the Annual Plan yesterday, acting corporate service general manager Diane Brandish told councillors a 2.3 per cent decline in the rating base had led to a $10 million drop in rate revenue.

That had added to the council's financial challenges and had forced the need to find savings elsewhere to keep the rate increase at the projected level.

Changes being considered as part of the Annual Plan process included:

Pushing out the programme for building the new cycleway network in the city from five to eight years. An increase of $12 or $13 for the registration of dogs classified as dangerous; fees for other registered dogs will increase 3 to 4 per cent. A 15 per cent increase in the base charge for council-managed community halls and a 33 per cent increase in the bond required for events held in community halls.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the council was focused on the rate rise remaining at 6.5 per cent: "It's not a question of adding to the rates; it's a question of re-allocating within budgets," she said as councillors began the task of working out what to include in the draft Annual Plan and what to leave out.

The formal adoption of the draft Annual Plan is scheduled for later this month. It will then be released for public consultation.

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- The Press

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