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Christchurch City Council approves first long-term community plan

1 July 2004

Christchurch’s first long-term community plan, put together under the new Local Government Act, has been approved by the Christchurch City Council.

Called Our Community Plan -- Christchurch O-Tautahi 2004-2014, the draft plan was put out for public comment early in April and 320 people or groups sent in submissions. A special Council committee sat last month to hear and consider those submissions and recommend changes to the full Council, which met on Thursday.

The financial year for New Zealand councils runs from 1 July to 30 June the following year. Christchurch City Council’s budget for 2004/2005 carries a lower-than-predicted over-all rates increase of 3.59 per cent (the draft plan suggested an increase of more than 3.6%).

For an average city home, worth a little over $164,000, the new rate means a difference of $3 a month (from $954 a year to $990). On a $300,000 residential property, the change is $4.66 extra a month -- rising from $1657 a year to $1713. A business premises worth $300,000 for ratings purposes will be asked to contribute a little under $5 extra a month to the city -- up from $2302 to $2361.

Council Chief Executive Lesley McTurk says the new planning process focuses on achieving community outcomes, often in partnership with other agencies. “This first community plan is a step towards greater engagement with our community and learning to listen to their needs and balance these within budgetary constraints,” Dr McTurk says.

Roy Baker, the Council’s General Manager of Corporate Services, says few of the groups and individuals who made submissions about the draft plan called for cuts in Council services. “The great majority of people who take part in the process are calling for more effort and money for one area or another and want to make sure we spend the money wisely.”

The City Council’s finances are strong, Mr Baker says. “The balance sheet is exceptionally strong. In fact, it’s even healthier than was proposed in the draft plan because we’ve taken a more realistic approach to our capital programme over the next few years. The result is that even less borrowing is needed over the next 10 years.”

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