PAULA'S BLOG

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Rates and Affordability

Rates are always a tough issue; who should pay and how much? I am a strong believer that every dollar the council spends is a dollar that we have collected from our constituents, and we should treat it as such. Spending and investment should be supported by thorough business case analysis, be transparent, and costs should be keep under control. Cost over-runs are simply not acceptable and should not be tolerated. We should also be looking to partner with business and the wider community wherever possible to find win-win situations that minimize costs to the ratepayer but deliver positive outcomes.

Over the last three years there has been great progress made in dealing with debt and with balancing the city's books. It needed to happen. That being said, we can't focus solely on debt – we also need to be investing in the vital aspects of a modern and growing city. There needs to be a balance. I have proven I can work with others to drive organisational savings and ensure spending is prudent spending – let's make sure any spending we do is affordable for both the city and our ratepayers.

Many of you will be aware that the Hamilton City Council is transitioning away from a land value rating system towards a capital value rating system. This means that each year an increasing portion of your rates will is derived from the value of your home – the land and what is built on it. We are currently in the second year of the transition (2016/2017) so 80% of your rates bill will be based on land value and 20% on capital value. House prices are increasing rampantly, but unless you are planning on selling soon this value will not be realized leaving you better off on paper but with an increasing rates bill year on year.

In short, we need to:
  1. Keep a tight control over the costs of significant projects. Cost over-runs are simply not acceptable and should not be tolerated;
  2. Invest wisely in essential infrastructure and amenities;
  3. Partner with others to explore win-win solutions without ratepayers also having to pay all costs;
  4. Rate in a way that is affordable and fair for all residents.