The Press reports:
A Christchurch city councillor says the city could offload non-core assets, including its own offices, to help pay its share of big-ticket rebuild projects.
Cr Tim Carter said last night that less important assets were expendable if it helped ease the council’s debt burden in funding anchor projects such as the new convention centre and roofed sports stadium.
“We should question whether we should be owning half of the civic office building and the Henderson properties.
“The Henderson properties … add nothing to ratepayers. The council had no plan for how we were going to develop them when the council decided to purchase, and we still have no plan.”
The council’s projected debt from earthquake recovery of $2.1 billion was not sustainable, he said.
“The council’s finances are in a very precarious position and we should consider our options rather than passing on higher rates,” Carter said.
He was against selling strategic, money-earning assets such as Christchurch International Airport, Lyttelton Port, Orion, and Enable, which is installing ultra-fast broadband in Christchurch.
The Council has adopted an absolutist position in which it will not sell any assets, no matter what. It’s a recipe for debt and massive rate hikes. Many commercial businesses sell some assets in order to purchase or build other more valuable ones. Decisions should be on a case by case basis.