Hamilton’s budget faces up to New Zealand’s growth challenge

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20 November 2017

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King says his initial draft budget presentation, and the indicative 16.5 per cent average rates increase required to fund it, is all about investing in the city’s future and tackling the same challenges faced by other growth areas of New Zealand.

“Hamilton’s opportunities and challenges are a case-study of the bigger picture across the nation,” Mayor King says.

“Earlier this month I was at a meeting of Local Government New Zealand’s Metro Sector. Mayors and deputy mayors from our largest and fastest growing cities agreed the biggest issue facing local government is the funding of growth infrastructure.

“As councils, we have to balance smart investment in the future with the needs and wants of our communities. Hamilton’s rapid growth is city-wide, not just in new developments, but we will have to open new growth cells. Ideally this would be done with a view to supporting the entire city, rather than having developers install small-scale infrastructure which supports just one development. We can plan, and fund this, through the Housing Infrastructure Fund and save our city $70 million in interest alone.

“That investment and other proposed 10-Year Plan priorities would invest more than $1.2 billion in Hamilton’s infrastructure, transport and community projects in the next 10 years. That’s a massive investment in our city which would bring families, jobs, new business, further investment and kick-start an economic boost for Hamilton and the wider region,” Mayor King says.

“I’ve been very clear that I believe we can’t leave this to future councils or future ratepayers to deal with. We have a chance to get this right now.”

Mayor King says delaying investment in planned growth can create issues which are far more expensive to solve later, and in some cases, can’t be solved at all.

“Our councillors and our community will have their views, and I welcome those. But I have a responsibility to put forward a draft budget on 6 December. I must balance the needs of growth and our existing communities, as well as new infrastructure and looking after the assets we already have.

“Managing growth is not just about new houses or new development. It’s about ensuring what we have now can be upgraded. Our water, wastewater and roads need to cope with more people, more vehicles, more public transport and more business. If we leave it too late we will get the congestion issues and pressure on core infrastructure we have seen in other growth cities,” Mayor King says.

“Make no mistake, managing growth properly benefits every ratepayer in Hamilton, and the longer we leave it, the more it will cost.”

Mayor King has again called on the new Government to look closely at ways it can assist councils to meet New Zealand’s growth challenge.

“Metro Sector leaders and their councils are looking for alternative methods of funding as a matter of urgency. We welcome the Government’s plans to review local government costs and revenue,” Mayor King says.

“Hamilton is on the front lines of this growth challenge. Our initial draft budget meets this challenge head-on, but supporting New Zealand’s growth is not something our ratepayers can, or should, have to tackle alone.”

Hamilton City Council will debate the initial 10-Year Plan budget from 6 December, followed by a public consultation process early next year and adoption of the final plan in June 2018.

Page reviewed: 20 Nov 2017 3:29pm