Why your views matter!
BIG rates and BIG projects are planned and I have some big concerns.
- The Long Term Plan is out and is a blueprint for the city for the next 10 years and is reviewed every 3 years. http://www.hamilton.govt.nz/ou....
- Things have changed since the 2012-2020 Plan.
- The voting, to get many proposals in the plan, was quite split (7-5) or through a mayoral casting vote.
- It is important to speak up for the proposals you like and those you don’t. These things might rely on ONE vote.
- Proposals in this plan have a considerable impact on rates for many ratepayers.
- You can submit online or you can request a hard copy there are some mobile help stations around to assist you if you need any support. http://www.hamilton.govt.nz/ou...
- You may like to refer to that document to keep track of projects and plans that would have been in year 2018-2 2 of the 2012-2020 plan. http://www.hamilton.govt.nz/our-council/10-year-plan/10-Year%20Plan%202015-2025/Pages/Former-10-Year-Plans.aspx
Let's talk about what's in!
There are 9 key projects proposed. Some are new. I have some concerns about a number of the big ticket projects (such as a Central City Park) in a time where the rates are set to rise sharply. I'd rather see more money into the existing community facilities and networks, and some items already proposed and consulted on in existing plans or strategies. I'd like to hear from you on the following:
- Central City Park ($12M) is a new idea which replaces ideas in the existing River Plan. It proposes to extend the new Victoria on the River Park through purchase of private property in Victoria Street. Is this the right time? Right project?
- Garden Place improvements ($3.2M). There is also a plan to include a Destination Playground there. Do nothing? Do some parts? Improve the front of the Library?
- Hamilton Gardens Development (5.7M) to assist with the further development of themes. http://www.hamilton.govt.nz/ou.... Please note that is also proposed to charge visitors from outside of Hamilton to enter the gardens. Will this harm the visitation of Hamilton's #1 attraction?
- Rototuna Town Centre ( what could this look like?)
- Waikato Regional Theatre ($19M). A new, purpose built riverside theatre or fix up safety issues with the exisiting Founders? Or use Founders for a new community purpose?
- Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park ($760,000) to get the park open to the public with an entrance, fully formed paths and lookout platforms. Have to say I am a big fan based on the huge numbers of volunteer hours over the last 12 years to transform this green space.
- Playgrounds ($5.5 M) 3 Destination Playgrounds and some local playground development.
This is not a full list of what is planned over 10 years. And you can comment on anything you wish to. But be sure to give the tick to what you like as well as a cross against what you don't. Make it clear to Council.
Let's talk about what's not in!
Given the big impact on rates many ideas in existing strategies and plans are either deferred or unfunded. You may wish to comment on matters you think deserve more focus or priority funding.
I have concerns that this Plan focuses too much on GROWTH and new projects and not enough on Community Development or existing assets. For this reason I am interested in your views on:
- The Libraries Plan - a number of our libraries are dated old buildings, and need to reflect modern trends in Libraries. I'd like to see the front of the CBD library improved so that it is more connected to Garden Place and more inviting, and would give this priority over some other new and much more costly projects. Your views? I'd like to see some minor improvements to suburban libraries and to support a new library hub in the existing new areas of North Hamilton
- The Zoo Plan was quite visionary but can't be fully funded. Two projects listed as unfunded are the Savannah development and a new entrance, cafe and connection to Lake Waiwhakareke.
- The Museum Strategic Plan is not well funded in this plan, the priorities have been placed into the later years. Love the Museum? Like to see it opened to the River side and improved wharf? Any other thoughts?
- The River Plan: the focus has shifted to a Central City Park so development in other areas is no longer seen as a priority by some councillors. I am very concerned that citizens who submitted to The River Plan will feel that there is little commitment to some existing strategies and this is one. Your views?
The link to the Strategic Plans mentioned is below:
Let's talk roads, bikes and passenger transport!
There is a $251M transport plan proposed. This is an increase in the provisions of the previous plan. I support an increase in cycling, walking and passenger transport. I also support improving the safety of our problem intersections. How hard and fast can we afford to go on some of the projects? What are the priorities for you. You may wish to comment on:
- The cycling projects ( which are priorities?)
- The passenger rail proposal; building a park and ride and platform for a passenger service to Auckland. Please NOTE. that the Regional Council is proposing to rate for an interim rail service Commuter rail service from Hamilton to Auckland:
"At the request of Hamilton City Council, the regional council is seeking feedback on an interim rail solution between Hamilton and Auckland. The interim solution would include two return services a day leaving from the Hamilton train station in Frankton, and arriving at the Papakura train station in Auckland. A minimum government contribution of 75 per cent of the cost will be sought, in line with their election promise. The impact on Hamilton ratepayers will be an average $25 for a $400,000 property."
Let's talk about some surprises!
The Mayor suggested that the iSite be closed as most travellers and event ticket buyers use digital resources. I disagree. Most major and smaller centres have a focus for tourism for local and tourist information. While digital resources are growing, nothing beats face to face human connection and advocacy. While some improvements/efficiencies could occur, we need a hub to sell, brand and promote our city in a personal way. Your views?
You may also wish to comment on the sale of the building that the Citizens Advice Bureau is in?
The amount of money allocated to Community Grants has remained much the same for over 6 years despite a growing population and inflation. Should there be more money to our community organisations to keep doing a great job in our local communities?
Let's talk about money and rates!
You may already be aware that some big changes have been made to the way that Hamilton City reports its finances. Please refer to a previous blog for more detail. To address some issues created by a new financial policy a big rates increased has been proposed. I acknowledge as a city we can't stagnate, let existing assets fall into disrepair. We need to better maintain and renew what we have in a timely way. The present work on Waterworld shows what happens when you delay things too long. Is the rate of change affordable or fair however? Can we afford to do all the new projects? I alert you to some key issues for you to consider:
- There are 6 options proposed for increasing revenue. The most extreme is a 16.5% rates increase in one hit with the introduction of a Uniform Annual Charge of $500 to all ratepayers ( essentially a fixed portion) and the immediate transition to Capital Value Rating. )This is a change from the previous plan where there was a further 7 years years for transitioning to Capital Value)...OUCH! The UAGC removes some of the sting of the CV rating from high value properties to lower value (which can affect those on lower or fixed incomes). However, CV is based on the value of your house so ratepayers of houses over $600,000 will be hit hard.
- The less extreme proposal is 9,5% increase for 2 years and then 3.8% and a slower move to Capital Value (CV).
- The unstated option is borrow less for growth and use more debt to fund City projects ( debt attracts interest and must be repaid across today's and future ratepayers)
- There are a number of complex changes proposed Development Contributions :a topic for a separate post.
I am concerned that ratepayers ( including commercial ones) have no time to adjust to the increased cost? What is the right balance? What are you prepared to pay for a better city? How should rates be spent?
For those who struggle with rates here is a link to information on remissions:http://www.hamilton.govt.nz/ou...
Let's talk about homes and houses!
Our City is growing and further fast growth is predicted. Affordable homes ( for sale or rent) has been a concern of Hamiltonians for some time. Also the previous and existing Government are requiring Councils to make plans to accommodate. The question is where should we develop new housing areas and why? How do we play our part and how does Government assist in solving a housing issue? How do we ensure houses built in new area are truly affordable and match demand. The plan talks of 2 areas; Peacocke and Rotokauri but places priority on Peacocke. Peacocke attracts a $180m interest free Government loan ( assuming New Zealand Transport Agency subsidies for transport infrastructure) which must be paid back. There is an assumption that developers and ratepayers from new homes will help pay that loan. However, the general rate payer will of course also pay a share of that loan.
I have no issue with growing the city. However, we cannot afford to tie up all of our debt capacity for growth while other needs for the City remain. I consider the Government has to play a bigger part in managing NZ's rapid growth and the housing crisis. I welcome your views.
Where should we grow? How fast should we grow? How should this be funded? How do we ensure new homes match need, demand and are affordable?
Let's talk about dates and process!
You can submit until the 30th of April online or on paper. You can ask for a hard copy and you can visit a mobile help station. You can also, if you wish ask to be heard. This can be very effective, but if you are not comfortable with this perhaps ask a confident member of your organisation or a friend ( or just write your views). Be assured I will listen respectfully and read all submissions.
It's your city and it's your turn to talk.
I am a strong believer in communities helping to design and build the future. They often know what works and what is best. I also believe in democracy.
In times of change silence is not effective. Be heard.
You don't need to write long responses. Even a short paragraph is good. Be clear about the topic you are talking about is and what you want to see. Think also about how it can be funded or what should not be done instead.
I will read every word and be open to new ideas and suggestions.