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Council welcomes Government’s rates probe

24 August 2006

Christchurch City Council welcomes the Government’s move to hold a full independent inquiry into rates rises around the country and wants to have a say in the probe’s terms of reference.

Mayor Garry Moore told this morning’s weekly council meeting that the opportunity to have a close look at the cost of undertaking local government in New Zealand is welcome.

“This Council has always had a commitment to set the lowest rates in the main cities in this country and we are still at this point. If this inquiry leads to additional Government assistance it will be well worth trying to influence its final outcome,” he said. “We should also be preparing to have a say in its terms of reference.

“I feel that the Local Government Act 2002 is a very good piece of legislation and it has highlighted that councils cannot hide, or defer, the actual cost of running cities and towns throughout New Zealand,” he said.

“The discipline required by this Act and the long-term plan process has shown that many of the councils around the country have been tinkering for a long time, putting off necessary spending so they can say they’re keeping people’s rates down. They’re not able to do that now and what it’s showing is that many of them probably should no longer exist.

“Christchurch on the other hand is prepared and working well. Rates have jumped this year, but the owner of an average property (a home valued about $260,000 in 2004) is this year paying $1176 in Christchurch City rates. That compares very favourably to the other big cities and people here can be confident it is a true reflection of what the city requires to maintain its quality and prepare for continued growth.”

A group of four councillors will work with the Mayor to prepare to contribute to the inquiry’s efforts and they will also seek to have a say in its scope.

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