Council votes against full rates relief

Posted 25 Jun 2012 by MediaStuff Popular
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A last-ditch attempt to secure full rates relief for earthquake-hit Christchurch residents forced out of their homes has failed.

City councillors voted nine to five against providing a 100 per cent remission for residents with uninhabitable homes at their annual-plan deliberations this afternoon.

Quake-hit residents forced out of their homes had made repeated pleas to the council for full rates relief.

Instead, the council proposed that residents with uninhabitable homes be rated only for the value of their bare land, which would generally mean a 50 per cent rebate - an improvement on the council's previous stance of a 40 per cent remission but still short of full relief.

Cr Tim Carter put an amendment to provide 100 per cent relief for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years for residents who made an application.

He said affected residents were paying rates through their rent as well as on their quake-hit properties.

The rates relief could be funded by selling all but one of the central-city properties that the council bought off controversial developer Dave Henderson during its last term, he said.

There were no plans for the properties, and the money raised from their sale could help the city's hardest-hit residents.

"Holding vacant properties with no plans for them is not the best way to serve ratepayer needs," he said.

Cr Peter Beck said the council's stance against full relief was "just plain wrong", and councillors had a duty to vote for full relief.

"It's an issue of justice. I just think we've got it plain wrong, and we need to get it right."

Cr Sue Wells said providing full relief to some residents would push the financial burden on to others who had also been badly affected by the city's quakes.

"It really worries me that people in places like Woolston and Linwood, who are unable to afford things as it is, will have to pick up the burden."

As the council had borrowed to buy the Henderson properties, the debt would remain on its books even if they were sold, she said.

Councillors voted nine to five against providing full relief for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years, and 11 to five against selling the Henderson properties to fund the relief.

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