I'm not happy with the final rates burden or how we got here. I'm not happy about a number of key priorities of this plan or the process. But, I fully understand the financial pressures of our City. I fully understand the need for growth (new homes), for a looking after our community facilities and assets well.
I pushed for a slower pace of rates increase. I focused on existing assets and the community. I wanted the libraries, zoo, Waterworld, parks, playgrounds, water, roads, community houses, crematorium to be better maintained and resourced. I wanted our community organisations to be well cared for. I wanted fair access to facilities across all parts of the city. I looked to reduce a little from ALL budgets, including transport. I aimed to support existing plans that had been already adopted by Council ( The River Plan, The Libraries Plan, The Zoo Plan, Parks and Reserves Management Plan etc). These are plans that many of the public had been consulted on. New ideas that were nice but, had little public participation and buy in were not my priorities.
Battles were hard fought, and at times the the focus on some of my colleagues seemed to be on attacking the person not the issue. But fair to say there were some "wins and losses" for all Councillors. And the community will feel the same way.
My take on the "wins and losses"
Rates are NOT now at nearly 20% WIN
9.7% along with a faster shift to Capital Value is too much change, too fast for me LOSS
Founders is at the end of its life at a theatre LOSS but, we have a huge sum of charitable money towards a new theatre WIN
Plans to extend a Central City Park ($7M to buy private property) LOSS. Nice idea, some good vision but what happened to the existing River Plan? Behind the museum? And can we afford this at a time of high rates?
A small sum was gained to improve the Central City Library so we can see into it from Garden Place and see out to Garden Place WIN If we expect other property owners to step up so should we.
Lake Waiwhakareke will get a toilet and be opened up to the public WIN This a big gain for the 1000's of volunteers that work there, green spaces in our city and the public who will be able to go there or add it to their zoo experience.
And the Zoo Entrance and experience gets a little love WIN The Zoo is a well loved facility and you are going to love the albeit small improvements on our aging zoo.
Hamilton Gardens continues to develop WIN but an entry fee has not totally been discounted yet POTENTIAL LOSS
Changes to development levies UNKNOWN We need to make sure developers pay their fair share but we need development to be affordable. I expect we will see more debate on this hot topic yet,
Public participation WIN. However while it was bigger than it had been in previous consultations, there were some issues with the submission form LOSS and it was still quite low compared to our population. I had great engagement on social media THANK YOU.
What I sees as a gains, you may not agree with, a range of views is healthy.
Working together works better
I believe there is power in working alongside stakeholders to design solutions to shared problems and to generate innovative ideas. There is value in taking time to fully discuss and explore issues. "Updates" of information with a few "allowed" questions is limiting. To be fair the staff were great and one on one discussions were the saving grace for me. THANK YOU HCC STAFF. (Remember staff are under the instruction of the Mayor and governance and it is governance that is accountable to you.)
People need time to understand new ideas and projects and so far so many late and new proposals have come across the Council table it is no wonder if some are left behind. Also it is absolutely right to talk with stakeholders fully if proposals are likely to have an effect on them. The CAB and iSite for example got very late shocks.
I value partnerships and we are so luck to have a great base on charitable givers in Hamilton, as we are to have volunteers. Going forward we need to keep valuing and maximising these. We can't just put out a hand for money, we need to work alongside funders.
I consider we need to engage sooner with our communities and allow time for buy-in and, for new ideas to be explore. I don't think that happened enough. I hope to see more of this happen as we implement the plan that the Council by majority adopted.
Onwards and Upwards
The plan is now in place. While I did not support it, it contains many good things and this is where my focus will lie. As projects are put into action we need to keep asking useful questions to ensure that the outcomes we hope for are happening.
You won't all agree with all of my decisions; as I did not agree with all those of my colleagues. The process was democratic in that I had my say (as best I could) and I cast my votes. Next year you cast yours.
I urge you to keep Council honest and support in the matters you care about, as I will.