From our Chair: 2020/21 rates focus on environmental priorities and supporting COVID-19 recovery
The formal adoption of an Annual Plan and the setting of rates is a yearly milestone for every Council. This year the Council is focusing on public transport, environmental priority projects and COVID-19 recovery.
Annual plans outline what Councils intend to do, and what they plan to spend doing it, for the coming year (1 July to 30 June). It is worth noting that an Annual Plan will have already been consulted on once with the community as part of the Council’s Long-Term Plan (which looks out 10 years).
That is why, if the Council is now proposing a significant change from what was agreed in the Long-Term Plan, they will bring the Annual Plan back to the community.
Environment Canterbury adopted the 2020/21 Annual Plan last week. The plan requires a 4% increase in total rates revenue. That is 5.8% less than originally proposed in the draft Annual Plan.
Savings were made by reducing reserves for flood protection, with provision in place to borrow should a flood event occur. While keen to invest in the future, as we are with public transport, for example, we are also trying to help enable post-COVID recovery in the region. Even so, reducing rates is no easy task, simply because so much of what Councils do is required by law.
How we spend the money
Environment Canterbury’s 4% rates increase for 2020/21 includes 2.3% for inflation and 0.8% for public transport service improvements.
The remainder of the increase is for spending on priority work programmes – the coastal environment plan (0.5%), climate engagement (0.15%) and a tree planting and regeneration initiative (0.25%).
For Environment Canterbury, a rough rule of thumb is that 0.1% increase equates to about $100,000.
While the percentages refer to the total income from rates, it is more useful to think in dollar terms for a household/ratepayer. For example, the increase for an urban Christchurch property valued at $580,000 will be about $6 per year.
For an urban Rangiora property of $400,000, it would be $22 per year increase. It is different based on land category, location, capital value and the split of general and targeted rates.
Householders in some places will pay less next year than they have in this one. Sample rating tables on the Environment Canterbury website provide model examples on rates changes.
Recognising the impact of COVID-19
Council has tried very hard to recognise the impact of COVID-19 on the region, and a great deal changed between Council signing off on the draft Annual Plan in February, deliberations in May, done online during lockdown and the formal adoption of the final version last Thursday.
With the annual plan adopted, the onus is now on Council to deliver the plan.