Christchurch Council’s Long Term Plan is now available to read. Submissions will close 13 April at 5PM.
This is about 6 pages of text. Spokes expects to offer some sample draft submission offerings in the very near future. This is worth reading if you have the time and interest.
First a very brief synopsis of the LTP from Council.
After that are some links and notes from some of the financial information provided with the LTP. They are grim reading.
Council is trying to rebuild our broken city without the financial base required. The plans offered are inadequate yet may be simply unaffordable. People are unhappy with the slow pace of recovery, broken roads, lack of services ever increasing rates. Yet, that appears to be the ‘new normal’ for Christchurch.
Councillors are trying their best to keep rates down while keeping our degraded infrastructure aloft and positioning Chch well for the future.
This LTP finds that after 20 years we will still have infrastructure in need of repair or renewal. Wastewater will be backing up to pollute our waterways and much of our other infrastructure will remain in poor condition. There will be little or no funding for preparing or responding to future quakes, flooding or other disasters, climate change, upgrades to sewage treatment or further development of the Otakaro/Avon river corridor and other projects which might make Chch a unique place to live and to visit. These are just a few necessities we can’t afford. Meanwhile debt levels and rates will rise. Rates will increase 5.72% in 2018/9. Council projects a lessening of increases to around 4.5% annually, but also acknowledges that not all known expenses are included or other expenses foreseeable.
Chch needs to cut back. The question is where? What can be cut back with the least pain? Roading for cars is a major capital expense. Shifting people onto bike and buses can cut costs significantly, savings in both road building and road maintenance can help. Council is hoping for the best based on debt levels which at times will exceed legal limits, increase the cost of borrowing, will be challenging to support and with minimal margin for the unexpected.
Cycling is being embraced by cities the world over as key to reducing congestion, lowering roading infrastructure costs and improving the quality of urban living. Council’s response to the financial challenges facing it should be to embrace and fund cycling and the education, promotion campaigns to help us all adapt. When people understand that the business as usual, bau, approach of driving means their rates go from $3,000 a year now to $5,475 a year by 2028 and $18,233 by 2048, or more, they may choose to cycle.
Land use is also an expense. Gerry Brownlee’s Land Use Recovery Plan opened up new areas to development. Council will have to fund infrastructure in support. Developers and central government need to pay these costs.
This link provides links to the draft LTP, Service Plans and underlying documents: https://ccc.govt.nz/the-council/plans-strategies-policies-and-bylaws/plans/long-term-plan-and-annual-plans/draft-long-term-plan-2018-28
https://www.ccc.govt.nz/the-council/consultations-and-submissions/haveyoursay/show/125 This is the formal consultation page.
From the LTP Consultation Document:
In quotes are quotes, in brackets is commentary.
“We’re in this together”
6 Strategic Directions:
“• Enabling active citizenship and connected communities
- Maximising opportunities to develop a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable 21st century city
- Climate change leadership
- Informed and proactive approaches to natural hazard risks
- Increasing active, public and shared transport opportunities and use
- Safe and sustainable water supply and improved waterways.”
“Have we got the priorities right?
Repairing our pipes and roads remains a high priority. We need to keep the city running and provide libraries, community facilities and events we enjoy. Rates are our main source of income. Our assets also provide revenue.
To prioritise essential infrastructure work we are proposing a 5.5 per cent increase to the average rate in the 2018–19 financial year with a view to a gradual decline in the rate of increase in the following years.
Transport network – $1049m
We know the state of our roads is a huge frustration in the city’s recovery. We want to prioritise road repairs. We’re also taking the opportunity to re-design our network of cycleways, footpaths and traffic controls to make it safer for everyone and to reduce traffic congestion.
We are expecting a large number of workers to return to the central city. If they all travel in a single occupant vehicle our roads will become more congested.
Community facilities – $835m
Community facilities are important because they bring people together.
The funding allocated will allow us to complete a wide range of projects
and make improvements to others. Our priorities are:
- Social housing renewals and replacements
- Library resources
- Recreation and sport buildings and plant renewals
- Hornby library, customer services and south-west leisure centre
- Recreation and sports grounds renewals
- Ngā Puna Wai sports hub Stage 1
- Linwood Woolston Aquatic Facility
- Performing Arts Precinct
- New Brighton Hot Salt Water Pools
- Metro Sports Facility (Council’s share under agreement with the Crown)
- Multi-use Arena (Council’s share under agreement with the Crown).
Stormwater and flood protection – $678m
Some parts of Christchurch are more flood-prone. We want to reduce the flood risk to homes and businesses.
Whatever goes into our gutters can end up in our rivers so you can help clean up the stormwater.
Drinking water – $495m
We enjoy high quality drinking water. We need to protect this by replacing damaged pipes and ensuring that our well-heads are secure.
Wastewater – $641m
Our network of pipes carry water from kitchens and bathrooms.We’ll provide for population growth but put on hold the work to replace wastewater infrastructure to free up funding to improve roads. This means in wet weather there could be more overflows. Is this acceptable?
Parks and heritage – $267m
We are a city of parks and gardens boasting a network of 130km of walking and mountain bike tracks. We propose to maintain and improve these assets.
We plan to delay repairing the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings until 2029 because the project will cost an estimated $204 million.”
Projects not included which are likely to require funding:
Residential Red Zone Regenerate Christchurch has yet to do their job and finalize plans.
Central Government funding $300 million may be allocated in May. (Not nearly enough.)
Water Treatment This is chlorination and if it has to be permanent will add $100mill in capital expense, $5mill in annual expense.
Pagination from pdf, not text, add 12 for text.
Page 6 ‘Chch /NZ ‘gets $10.2 mill annually to promote Chch and wants an additional $1.4mill. (Cut funding for ‘Christchurch/NZ’ body to a holding level and refocus funds to infrastructure repair. Chch is not yet ready for a place on the world stage.)
Page 7 The preferred proposal will not allow Council “to maintain most of our current levels of service.”
Lower and higher cost options mentioned. The lower option will see deterioration of infrastructure and services and looks set to cost more in the long run. The higher option would be preferred, but requires annual 6.2% rates increases and would exceed legally allowed debt levels. Council proposes a preferred option which will still see some infrastructure remain in poor condition, some continue to deteriorate, but is all we might be able to afford. The quakes hurt Chch and central government did not do all it promised.
Page 8 Balancing Costs, Rates, Debt. They are interdependent. Both capital spending and service levels are being cut and/or delayed. The Financial strategy and the infrastructure strategy provide the details.
Page 9 where they soft sell the Cathedral rebuild 0.22% rates increase as for only 10 years and admit that this is NOT included in the headline 5.5% rates increase. (While well over half of submissions received on this were against the subsidy the backers made lots of emotional oral submissions which swayed Councillors. This is why making an oral sub is so important.)
And your rates are likely to exceed the 5.72%, increases as changes to how rates are being calculated will place more burden on homeowners, less on commercial properties. For a $400K house the increase will be 5.37%, a $400k commercial 5.03%. (Do add in that 0.22% for the cathedral which is left out.) And the more valuable the property the higher the rise. Commercial properties will still pay higher rates, just getting less of a rise. Farms pay the least and will get the lowest rates rise.
(The $10mill Cathedral subsidy added 0.22% to rates, the $254mill stadium will add 5.588% to rates, more if Council takes on debt to pay for it.)
More on debt and options, or lack thereof.
Page 10 Expenditure by activity, sort of. How expenses are broken into what categories shapes reporting. Nb: these categories don’t follow later info. See Page 18 storm water and flooding for example.
Take ‘Corporate Revenue and Expenses’ at 12% of expenditure. $823mill is interest expense, $254mill the stadium and $192mill IT. Chch is paying nearly as much in interest annually as on our water supply and more than is spent on all parks.(This shows the cost of all the debt past councils have gifted us while ‘keeping our rates down’.)
Roads and Footpaths are shown as 13% of spend, Transportation, which includes cycleways, buses and car parking, 5%.
Page 11 Quake damage to infrastructure has had only temporary repairs, complete repair is unaffordable and will require decades. Quake costs are currently 13.5% of rates.
Page 12 Rates income 2018-19 to be about $487mill. Other income shown here to make up shortfall. (Graphs of limited usefulness.)
Page 13 Other income. Council hopes that central government will reverse their recent decision to not allow Chch to asses a fuel tax. They go on to make the case for additional tax and fee income should be allowed to councils.
They invite suggestions as to how they might raise money. (Assessing developers the full costs for providing infrastructure and services to their developments is an obvious move.)
Population growth graph.
Many of the following have comparisons of what will be funded, or not, under the low, preferred and high options.
Page 16 Water and roads, graphing the grim reality of infrastructure and the impact of the low, medium and high expenditure options. (Nb: Under the preferred option roads will be worse off by 2029.)
Page 17 Drinking water
Page 18 Flooding. Prioritized, will not be enough, will take 30 years. Some details are here but conflict or tell only part of the story started on Page 10.
Page 19 Wastewater.
Page 20 Transport. Roads are Chch’s top priority according to some survey. A billion $’s over 20 years.
“Residential development on the outskirts of the city and in neighboring districts is continuing and this has brought an increase in commuter traffic and congestion.
Freight traffic through Christchurch is projected to keep increasing over the next 20 years, and this will further contribute to congestion and increase the wear and tear on our roads.
One way to reduce congestion is to encourage people to use other forms of transport” buses and cycle.
Graph showing where the money goes, sort of. (Nb: MCR expense includes much infrastructure improvement to roads, underground utilities, intersections upgrades, etc. The 50% figure for reimbursement reflects the lower rebate for some of these related improvements. The 66% is the cycle way rebate.)
Page 21 MCR’s “We plan to complete the 101 kilometres of cycleways over the next 10 years.” (With LTP’s one can only count on funding for the first 3 years. After that it can easily be delayed or cancelled by a future LTP, or even an amendment to the LTP a year later.)
“Already, on the completed routes, the number of cyclists has exceeded expectations. In a 2017 survey 15 per cent of users said they would previously have travelled by car or bus.”
And why the extra $90mill is required: “(The additional budget is needed to fund route changes where routes had been intended to run alongside railway lines, unexpected repairs of infrastructure such as pipes and footpaths, intersection changes, new roundabouts and traffic lights, and extra facilities, such as parking and street lighting, agreed to after consultation).” (ie; for infrastructure which also benefits the city, cars and changes demanded by NIMBY opponents of the MCR’s.)
Bike sharing is part of making Public Transport, PT, work. (The last central gvt insisted that CCC buy the bus exchange, given the grim financials Council should lobby to have this debt forgiven.)
(Accessible City program has not served cycling well. Very little new bike parking and Oxford Tce changes by the hospital will impede cycling. Ask for council to develop alternatives as a priority.)
Page 22 What are the priorities you want in the transport program?
Page 23 Community Facilities Big ticket items are stadium $254mill and multi use sports facility $123mill (Starts with a human interest piece to illustrate its value)
Page 24 Funding for non-Council owned activities. (Starts with a human interest piece to illustrate its value. Why didn’t all categories have this?)
Business Improvement District Program allows affordable financing for targeted area with targeted rates for those involved to repay. (Parking fee for business who lose on street parking?)
“We think this may be a good way of supporting fundraising for local projects that are not owned or funded by the Council, but which are of significant local benefit. We want to know whether or not you agree, but would not consider introducing a targeted rate without first consulting with affected ratepayers.”
(This can be good or can signal Council shifting the costs of projects traditionally funded by the whole rates base to just a select few. Poorer areas could easily find themselves with less ‘amenities’, richer areas with more.)
Page 25 Parks and Heritage buildings Nothing for walking or biking tracks for 10 years.
Page 27 Landmark Grant fund. $1.9mill annually to private owners to help them preserve/restore. Council wants to know if this should continue.
Page 29 Schedule of informational events on this LTP
Page 30 The questions Council would like responses to. Do try to answer them if you can.