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Christchurch City Council wraps up Community Plan deliberations

15 June 2006

Christchurch City Council has completed its deliberations on changes to the draft long-term community plan, with an increase for 2006/07 of around 8 per cent in the total rates take over the current year.

The final approval of Christchurch O-Tautahi 2006-16 takes place on 30 June and there are still some small changes to be made in the final numbers, but in effect this week’s work completes it. That is because the final plan must be checked and approved by Audit New Zealand and then published before month’s end.

The draft plan, released for public feedback at the end of March, predicted an over-all rates increase for the coming year of 8.55%. It brought in about 2000 submissions. Councillors, community board members and staff hosted about 70 public forums, displays and discussion forums. More than 450 individuals and groups followed up by coming in and speaking to councillors at a series of hearings which ran for about three weeks.

In meetings on Monday and yesterday, councillors agreed a number of changes to the draft plan and these are detailed below.

The main area of public contention, a proposal to close a number of the community libraries and quit the Mobile Library service, will not proceed. The topic was mentioned in more than half of the submissions, with 99 per cent against the idea.

The idea of using a targeted rate to help pay for a planned upgrade of City Mall was also rejected, with councillors deciding to fund it from general rates. They said the upgrade would be a catalyst for wider development and the benefits would flow to the entire city.

Council corporate services general manager Roy Baker said next year’s over-all rates requirement is likely to be a little under what was posited in the draft plan. Mr Baker said the budgets also show additional surplus revenue of about $10m that could be used to lower rates increases in the years from 2008/09. Councillors asked him to report back on that.

Council also approved the new Development Contributions Policy 2006 but has agreed to put off its financial implementation for a year and will collect at the 2004 rates in the meantime. It will also set up a working party with industry to review the new policy and recommend changes.

Summary of this week’s decisions

(a) Rates: 2006/07 increase of around 8%, 6.58% for 2007/08 and 10.10% for 2008/09.  The 2008/09 increase could be less some of the $10m surplus mentioned above was applied.

(b) Capital programme changes: Capital programme spending rescheduled so that the impact of $34m is felt in 2008/09 and 2009/10, not in 2006/07 and 2007/08 to achieve the rates mentioned above.

(c) Kerb and channel: Kerb and channel programme rescheduled to deliver a total of 210km over the 10 years but only 15km, 17km and 19km over the first three years.

(d) Southern Motorway associated projects: New projects associated with the Southern Motorway are not in the 2006/16 LTCCP and a note about this will be put in the final plan also indicating that details will be known for the 2009/19 LTCCP.

(e) Bus Exchange: Confirm intent to expand bus exchange facilities capacity.  The costs will be timed to achieve the above mentioned rates increases. The proposed funding mix will be highlighted in the final plan.

(f) Works timing changes: Start of City Mall upgrade deferred.  reprogrammed spending from Ferrymead Bridge to Blenheim Road in 2006/07 and from Blenheim Road to Ferrymead Bridge in 2007/08.

(g) Parking charges: Confirm the draft plan increase to parking charges, and

- Ask staff to investigate requiring all permanent accounts to be allocated space at the top of parking buildings and be charged at the current market rate

- Consider convenience parking in the form of free parking on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays, and consider parking subsidies by retailers and theatres for their customers (eg swipe cards)

- Ask for a staff report within the next month on a review of the existing Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce contract, on a possible bylaw for charging for car parking in malls, and on a review of the 2003 parking strategy.

(h) Loan repayment term: To move to the maximum 30 years of the loan repayment provisions in the liability policy instead of the 20 years cited in the draft plan.

(i) Civic Offices maintenance: Note that the plan provides for additional maintenance/rental costs for the council’s Tuam Street building and $4m of capital spending for similar work by Travis Finance, noting that this spend will be determined in the most financially efficient way.

(j) Waste minimisation: Hold a seminar on council’s relationship with Terra Nova/Meta and meet as soon as possible with chairman Andy Pearce with regard to the potential waste minimisation component of the refuse station fees.

(k) Burwood landfill gas: Retain provision for building a gas pipeline from the Burwood Landfill to the QEII Leisure Centre (95% complete), and retain the provision for the co-generation installation by substituting $700,000 from the Biosolid Thermal Drying Budget.

(l) Tree renewals: Confirm $10m over 10 years for tree renewal and new trees in the capital programme. The council will also instigate a sponsorship programme for new trees with a review of the programme after three years (promoting sponsorship for tree plaques, artworks and street furniture); ask staff to report on requiring developers to plant larger trees where appropriate; and maintain the capital project budget for the Botanic Gardens as per the draft and increase the operating budget in 2006/07 and 2007/08 by $100,000 a year to address immediate building maintenance in order to meet health and safety requirements.

(m) Botanic Gardens: Address immediate building maintenance issues to meet health and safety requirements by increasing the operating budget in the draft plan by $100,000 in 2006/07 and 2007/08; maintain the capital project budget for the Botanic Gardens as in the draft plan.

(n) City Mall upgrade finance: The City Mall upgrade will be fully funded from general rates (no targeted rate), strongly encourage City Mall retailers to buy into a collective marketing and hours of business policy, and consider renaming the area Remembrance Boulevard.

(o) Museum funding: Maintain the current draft plan operating budget provisions for the museum subject to it reporting back on other storage options, including off-site in the Central City; defer the capital provision ($833,333) for a year; and discuss with the Trust Board future capital requirements and council contributions in the form of the Capital Endowment Fund, ex-gratia payments and the capital programme.

(p) Civil Defence Building: Maintain the current capital provision for the new CDEM building and consider that it be co-located with any of the following: the new Civic building, Jade Stadium extension, new visitors’ centre at Botanic Gardens or any other appropriate building.

(q) City Mall upgrade timing: Noting the revised timing for the City Mall upgrade.

(r) New Civic Offices fit-out: Maintain the current funding provision of $4.3m for fit-out of the new civic offices.

(s) Libraries: Library services remain at the current levels with no new buildings or closures of existing facilities considered until the libraries 2025 plan is completed.

(t) Mobile Library: The current level of service for the mobile library be retained and no reduction of service be considered until the Libraries 2025 plan is completed.

(u) Libraries change finances: Note that the implications of (s) and (t) have been incorporated into the updated financial position.

(v) Pools and aquatic leisure facilities: Approve a defined transition phase with regards to the implementation of the Aquatic Facility Plan, including:

          (a) Build an indoor pool and sports hall at Papanui High School as in draft budget.

          (b) Support schools in keeping their pools open and widening their pools’ appeal (budget impact nil, capacity exists within current budget).  Specific projects include:

                            (i)     Assistance for Sumner School at existing levels.

                            (ii)    Assistance for St Albans School in heating their pool so that it is available for extended community use.

                            (iii)   Assistance for Canterbury Christian College in heating their indoor pool in the Aidanfield area for schools and public use.

                            (iv)   Investigate options to co-operate with Akaroa School.

           (c) Continue to operate Templeton Pool.  Maximise community and school involvement to support lifeguards. Review Templeton Pool in 2011 alongside the first five-yearly review of the Aquatic Facility Plan (budget impact, additional $30,000 in operating costs, ongoing). Investigate volunteers collecting an entry fee and the proceeds going to community pool initiatives.

           (d) Continue to operate Belfast Pool until the Papanui Pool is complete. Maximise community and school involvement to support lifeguards (budget impact, additional $30,000 in operating costs for 2006/07 and 2007/08).  Investigate volunteers collecting an entry fee and the proceeds going to community pool initiatives.

            (e) Continue to operate Woolston Pool as a schools-only pool in conjunction with Woolston School until the pool fails (budget impact nil, can be met from existing resources).

             (f) Close Edgeware pool, noting:

                            (i)     Structural faults that cannot be repaired

                            (ii)    Budget impact (over and above savings already declared)

                            (iii)   Will avoid council having to fund between $360,000 and $1.6m of capital expenditure depending on the extent to which council wants to replace the pool

                            (iv)   Pool drains need replacing

                            (v)    The pool tank will not keep water out or in.

           (g) Close the Sockburn Recreation Centre

           (h) Close Sockburn Pool due to very low user numbers, high cost of operating and the availability of alternatives at low cost nearby, and noting:

                            (i)     Budget impact (over and above savings already declared)

                            (ii)    Will avoid Council having to spend $203,500 on essential capital works which is not budgeted.

                            (iii)   Will also allow Council to off-set up to $418,500 on the operating costs of new facilities at Papanui and Jellie Park. This has been allowed for in ongoing budgets.

            (i) Sell the land occupied by closed pools at Papanui and Edgeware.  Budget impact $400,000 revenue.

(w) NZ PGA Golf support: Defer funding for the PGA Golf Championship pending a report from officers on the Economic Development Fund and any other initiatives.

(x) Community Grants: Maintain funding at current levels with a cap of $8.2m on the Community Grants Scheme until the outcomes of the Community Development Strategy and the Community Grants Review are known.

(y) City Scene publication: Cut budget by $22,000 but not specify a particular number of issues, noting that the number of issues is being reviewed as part of an integrated approach to council communication.

(z) and (aa) Payments through NZ Post: Approve use of NZ Post for all Council financial transactions, saving $423,000 a year; close the sub-agencies at Hornby and Riccarton, saving $77,000; maintain the current level of service at the Tuam Street Civic Offices and at the Banks Peninsula service centres; and note that general information services are to be maintained at service centres

(ab) Metropolitan Christchurch Transport Strategy: Confirm the financial provisions in the draft plan.

(ac) Christchurch Cathedral Foundation:

Develop a more formal business relationship with the Christchurch Cathedral Foundation. Adequately compensate the Foundation for the Council’s use of Cathedral land, buildings and the Cathedral logo (intellectual property rights), and work with the Foundation to care for the Cathedral as a Christchurch icon.  Initially request a report from the Foundation on the current condition of the Cathedral and a long-term asset management plan (incorporating a business plan that recognises the value of the building).  Consider the Foundation’s grant application outside the LTCCP process, as to whether funds of $1.2m could be sourced from the emergency capital fund.

(ad) Banks Peninsula

          (a) Funding for the Akaroa Museum storage facility be brought forward from 2012/13 to 2008/09, noting that about half the gross amount of $500,000 is expected to come from external funding sources.

          (b) Support the Lyttelton Harbour Basin green-waste programme with $5000 a year from operational expenses for waste minimisation.

          (c) Support the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust with $50,000 a year, to be reviewed in three years.

          (d) Current Akaroa Museum charges to continue.

(ae) Undergrounding budget: Signal intention to rescind December 2005 decision to maintain the current level of spending on undergrounding of overhead wiring and consider a report on the following:

                   (i) Taking $1m from the operating budget for undergrounding for local roads

                   (ii) If and when the council receives an extra dividend from CCHL, it will budget the first $1m for undergrounding

                   (iii) That enough money remain in the budget to address the previously committed half-share of the Thornycroft Street undergrounding

                   (iv) Provide $500,000 a year over the next three years to enhance the Garden City image.

                   (v) A working party led by the Environmental Portfolio Group work with groups in the city to put forward proposals for these funds.

(af) Community Board planning report: Direct staff to produce a Community Board Planning Report the year after the LTCCP, to be funded out of the Community Board budget.

(ag) Capital Emergency Fund: Note that this fund is at $6.423m and above the minimum level set by the council of $5m and that interest earned has added to the fund; seek staff report on the need for such a fund and whether interest earned on it can be used for general rate purposes.

(ah) Fireworks: Investigate potential savings of $100,000 by cutting the number of fireworks displays or merging two festivals.

(ai) Development Contributions Policy: Approved new Development Contributions Policy though the Council has agreed to put off its financial implementation for a year and will collect at the 2004 rates in the meantime. A working party including members of the development sectorwill be set up to review the new policy and recommend changes.

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