The Earthquake: How Much Will it Cost the Council (i.e. Ratepayers)?

The immediate answer is: we don’t know.

It could be anywhere between $10m and $30m, depending on government and council decisions and a whole range of unknown factors. Costs of this size are normally funded by loans because this means that future beneficiaries also get to pay for it.

But to give you an idea of what we could be in for …

The underground infrastructure, notably sewers and water mains, will be covered mainly by insurance.  Additional costs to the ratepayers could come if we, i.e. the Council, decided to relocate sewer mains in the Feldwick Drive / Gray Crescent area, currently located behind the houses, into the streets, which is normal modern practice. (Quite a few sewer mains in Kaiapoi and Rangiora are located behind houses.)

Roads are mainly covered by an 83% NZ Transport Agency subsidy.  We have to find the other 17% but we are trying to persuade the Government to lift the subsidy to 90%.  There should be an opportunity to redesign streets, where residents want it, for little extra cost: it doesn’t, for instance, matter where new kerbing is put from a cost point of view.

Fixing up the parks is totally our cost.  They can’t be insured – although play equipment is.

Community buildings are insured, but in some cases they weren’t adequate before the earthquake, so why would we build back the way they were?  The Kaiapoi Museum, for instance, was owned by the Council.  It was actually a former court house and had become too small.  It seems reasonable that when we build a new museum, that is designed for the purpose and meets the museum’s needs. Insurance won’t cover the improvement, however.  The library was cramped and the associated offices and meeting room (the former Kaiapoi Borough chamber) were also inadequate. A decision on this will not be easy.

The council is also putting staff time into social recovery, although some of this is government funded too.  We take the view that the hardest part is going to be helping the people of our District through what is going to be a very dfficult process.  It is also important that we, the wider community, help community organisations and businesses in the Kaiapoi area through this time. This is why we have already given some financial assistance to the business community through Enterprise North Canterbury and the Kaiapoi Promotion Association.

Another cost has been the loss of income through the remission of rates for those who are not able to live in their houses.  This lasts until 30 June because that is the end of the financial year.  The Council has yet to discuss what will happen after 1 July: whatever recommendation is made will be part of the Draft Annual Plan which will be out for public consultation in February-March.

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