Bid for Christchurch council complaint on ECan rate rise labelled 'hypocrisy'

Accusations of headline grabbing and hypocrisy flew across the Christchurch City Council chambers on Thursday as a group of councillors took issue with Environment Canterburys proposed rates rise.
Five councillors Sam MacDonald, Aaron Keown, James Gough, Phil Mauger and Catherine Chu wanted the council to express its concern at ECans proposed 24.5 per cent rate increase.

They wanted the council, in its submission on ECans 10-year budget, to tell the regional council to make operational savings and demonstrate fiscal restraint by reducing the proposed rates rise.

But mayor Lianne Dalziel described the move as dreadful, deputy mayor Andrew Turner spoke of the hypocrisy involved in such a request, while councillor Pauline Cotter said it was just rude.

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Keown said the request was not rude because it was the councils responsibility to comment on rates.

A 24 per cent increase should alarm anyone and as a council it is our job to speak up.

MacDonald said there had been a public backlash over the fact ECan was not prepared to drive greater efficiencies and the city council should be sending some sort of direction to ECan on behalf of ratepayers.

I don't think its unreasonable to put something like this to them. They can reject it. We dont listen to every submission that comes through, we probably dont listen to most of them.

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Sam MacDonald says ECan is not prepared to drive greater efficiencies.

Turner said while ECan had proposed a 24.5 per cent rates increase across its entire region, for Christchurch it would be a 3 per cent rise.

ECan chairwoman Jenny Hughey has previously said for an average house in Christchurch, worth $580,000, the increase was about $1.55 a week.

There is a hypocrisy in asking ECan to reduce their 3 per cent rates rise when we are proposing a rate rise higher than that of our own, Turner said.

The city council has proposed a 5 per cent increase next financial year for residential ratepayers. That equates to an extra $142.25 a year, or $2.74 a week for a house valued at $508,608.

Deputy mayor Andrew Turner says ECans rate rise is 3 per cent for Christchurch.

Yani Johanson said people wanted greater responsiveness from ECan.

Thousands of environmental complaints to ECan went unanswered each year because it did not have the resources to respond, Johanson said.

I want them to look after the health of our environment for the sake of the communitys wellbeing.

I don't think its fair to ask them to do more while asking them to cut funding.

Sara Templeton said residents across the city were protesting about nitrate levels, and air quality issues from quarries and composting in Bromley. They wanted ECan to enhance monitoring and enforcement, she said.

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Melanie Coker believes the environment will suffer if ECan cuts its proposed rate rise.

Melanie Coker said if ECan did less, the environment would suffer.

I think the environment is way more important than a couple of dollars.

Dalziel said it was frustrating having debates around headlines and slogans, rather than debating the serious challenging issues facing the city.

We are required to think for the current generation but also for future generations as well.

The councils final submission to ECan will not include any mention of rates increases. It instead talks about a number of issues including climate change, public transport and air and water quality.

The council has said it was concerned about the rising nitrate levels across the district, and it supported steps to increase turnaround on after-hours air quality complaints.

Both authorities have released draft long term plans (LTP), for consultation. People have until Sunday, April 11 to have their say on ECans plan and until April 18 to comment on the city councils LTP.


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