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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rates relief offered

Last updated 05:00 29/04/2011
Owners of earthquake-damaged properties will get some rates relief, but Christchurch City councillors say the policy needs a full review.

The council was divided yesterday on whether a rates-remission policy should be introduced now to the end of the financial year on June 30 or delayed a week so it could get more information.

Every councillor who spoke agreed the policy was not perfect, but most said the council needed to show residents and business owners it acknowledged they had suffered since February 22.

A rates-relief package to cover damage sustained in the September 4 and December 26 quakes offered between 30 and 40 per cent rates remissions.

Councillors agreed to review the policy during the annual-plan process.

The rates rebate will not include wastewater services because of the extent of damage to the city's sewerage infrastructure and because the council provided a service by delivering portaloos to the worst-affected residents.

The estimated cost of the package after the September 4 earthquake was $672,000. The February 22 earthquake package could cost $3.3 million.

"While the council would not normally remit rates on houses severely damaged by an event such as fire, the earthquake was a significant regional event that justified the offer of rates relief for the worst-affected properties," he said.

Councillors were divided on whether the existing scheme should be offered or a new policy developed.

They agreed to continue the existing scheme but extensively review it when they discuss the draft annual plan next month.

Mayor Bob Parker said the policy was not perfect but it was right to give residents some financial relief because they had lost services through no fault of their own.

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