Christchurch City Council is in a sound financial position as the end of the financial year approaches, says Chief Executive Karleen Edwards.
“The earthquakes have left us facing unprecedented costs but with our Annual Plan for the next 12 months agreed we are in a sound financial position with enough money to pay our bills and our share of the rebuild costs,’’ Dr Edwards said.
Even with the agreed 4.9 per cent increase in rates from July 1 Christchurch still has much lower average rates than Auckland and rates that are comparable with Wellington, Tauranga and the Waimakariri District.
“The rates we pay go towards ensuring we have a safe and reliable water supply, wastewater treatment, roads, waste collection and management and a public transport system. They also help pay for the day-to-day running of things like neighbourhood parks and sports field, libraries, swimming pools and community meeting spaces,’’ Dr Edwards said.
“When you look at everything we get through our rates it is great value for money but we are conscious that household budgets are tight so we are always looking at how we can deliver the services and facilities residents want without adding unduly to rates. Over the last 12 months we’ve put a lot of effort into working smarter and identifying ways we can be more effective, efficient and responsive.’’
Dr Edwards said that work was paying dividends, both in term of financial savings (estimated at $15 million over the next 12 months) and improved customer satisfaction.
“Our latest residents’ survey shows satisfaction with the Council has risen to pre-earthquake levels with almost three-quarters of people happy with the way the organisation delivers services. There is still room for improvement but we are very happy with that result.’’
Dr Edwards said the Council was borrowing to pay for its capital programme but the level of debt was manageable and needed to be viewed in the context of the Council’s strong asset base.
The Council’s owns about $10 billion in assets.
“The money we are borrowing is helping to pay for the repair and rebuild of key infrastructure and facilities in the communities most affected by the earthquakes. It will also help pay for the Land Drainage Recovery Programme and the $100 million, 10-year road resurfacing programme that will begin once the Scirt work wraps up,’’ Dr Edwards said.