My election as Mayor came with a promise to Hamilton.
I promised people could have a far greater say, much more easily (and much earlier) on important decisions. That promise is important to me. I believe all people have the right to share their voice and shape their city. Our city is full of passion and diversity and all views should be heard.
However getting people involved in what happens at Council is not always easy – I know that! We all lead busy lives. But now, more than ever, I’m asking people to take an important opportunity to have their say on the future of Hamilton Kirikirioa.
Today Council is kicking off one of its most important and most extensive engagement programmes in this electoral term. For the next four weeks, we’re asking for your feedback on our 2021-2031 draft Long-Term Plan.
Putting together a Long-Term Plan is one of the most important pieces of work done by any council. The Long-Term Plan is formally reviewed every three years so it is constantly being revised and updated.
What are we prioritising?
In our draft Plan we’ve prioritised core functions like building roads, providing water and collecting rubbish …the base work we need to keep our city running well. We’ve budgeted to spend $3.7 billion over 10 years on these ‘everyday’ costs and we’ve also budgeted a further $2.5 billion for essential capital projects.
We’ve also made a big commitment to look after what we’ve already got. We don’t want things like playgrounds, pools, footpaths and libraries to fall into disrepair. Personally, I cannot support a programme that sees well-loved pools or theatres closing because they have not been looked after. We have budgeted $2.5 billion for this kind of work.
But a city where people want to live is much more than roads and water and rubbish. It is fundamentally about people. We want to invest in ways that will help us build a WONDERFUL city, where green space is valued, where it’s fun to live and where our people and businesses have every opportunity to thrive.
As part of our draft Plan, we have put together a number of options for you to consider. They all come with clear costs, clear timeframes and clear options. Our proposals include:
- Investing $55 million over the next decade on more and safer routes for biking, scooting and skating
- Spending $3 million to upgrade the Gordonton Road/Puketaha Road intersection
- Spending $11 million to upgrade the Borman Road/Horsham Downs Road intersection
- Investing $5 million to expand the Hillcrest Library
- Setting aside funding for our creative sector - $100,000 a year for three years
- Alongside partners, committing $11 million to a fantastic new walking and cycling bridge over the Waikato River
- Introducing paid commuter parking around the fringe of the central city
- Spending $3 million to build a new jetty at our stunning Hamilton Gardens
- Charging for parkingat Hamilton Gardens
- Building a $6 million seasonal dome over the under-utilised outdoor pool at Waterworld
- Investing $29 million over 10 years to restore and improve our beautiful gullies.
Core infrastructure will always be by far the biggest chunk of our proposed budget. But if these proposals are supported they will contribute to the kind of city you and your families want to live in. Importantly, they are based on five priorities for our city, developed in conjunction with you. That includes, among other things, investment into our central city.
Like everything, the work we are planning has huge financial implications for us all; ratepayers more than anyone. While Councillors all had different views on some parts of this Plan, we are all concerned about issues of affordability, particularly given Covid-19.
I can absolutely assure you we have done what we can to keep proposed rates down, while still investing in our city, catering for growth and looking after what we have. That includes compromising on the timeframes set to balance our books. It also includes deferring some projects I know the community wants (and that I also want!). We simply cannot afford to do everything, or do everything as quickly as some people might like.
Nonetheless, our draft Long-Term Plan proposes an average 8.9% rates increase in 2021/22 for existing ratepayers. Frankly, that disappoints me, especially when we have prioritised core functions and day-to-day work and projects over everything else. I am acutely aware we had forecast a rates rise of 3.8% so it is important that we are very transparent about how we got here.
Our proposed 8.9% rate increase rate is made up of a 4.4% average increase to the general rate which pays for core infrastructure, maintenance and all the other work undertaken by Council. It also includes the proposals detailed above, which are important for a growing city which aims to offer a quality lifestyle to families as well as local support business and tackle longer-term issues like climate change.
In addition to the 4.4% we have ring-fenced an additional 4.5% to cover costs which have been imposed upon us by central government. These government compliance costs relate to drinking water, stormwater and wastewater and will also help pay for a review of District Plan, which we are obliged to do.
The reality is that, if we are to continue providing drinking water that meets higher standards, if we are to give effect to new legislation (as we are required to do), if we are to meet obligations around climate change and housing, these costs are unavoidable. I am frustrated by this and I’ll be continuing to work with central government to find ways to ease the burden on our ratepayers.
In the meantime, we have work to do and decisions to make about our city. That is where you come in.
Have your say
Please tell us what you think about our proposals – they are important to your future and to your family’s future. Your Councillors are your representatives and it’s important we know your views. The feedback we get from our community WILL be taken into account before our 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan is locked down in June, before our rates are set. That was my promise to you, and I am keeping that promise.
From today, the draft 2021-2031 Long-term Plan is formally open for feedback. We have taken your views on board to get here, and we need them again in this next stage as well. Over the next four weeks you are likely to see Councillors and Council staff out and about, talking about what’s proposed. You’ll hear us on the radio, see us at Council, and read or hear media stories. I hope all Councillors will also share their own views and priorities in their own way.
But let’s not make this a one-way conversation – your voice is more important now than ever. Here are some of the ways you can share your voice, and shape our city.
I sincerely look forward to hearing what you have to say over the next four weeks. Your views about the future of our city and our community are important and now, more than ever, I urge you to share them.