Friday 23 June 2016
The future of Hamilton, the services its growing communities need and want, and principles around funding those services were all discussed at a 10-Year Plan briefing at Hamilton City Council this week.
Mayor Andrew King says this briefing allowed elected members to better understand the challenges the city faces and how we can look to balance growth, levels of service and the financial strategy.
“Growth is great for the future of our city as it stimulates economic activity and generates new jobs, but it brings some challenges. Last year alone Hamilton’s population increased by 4400 people and we need the houses, roads, parks and water and wastewater infrastructure to support the businesses and families who will arrive in the years to come,” says Mayor Andrew.
“Not only do we need to consider new areas in our city for development, we also need to look at what services our established areas have and how we want to maintain or even improve them over the next 10 years.
“We’re building a stronger economy and a more attractive city for families, and we need to make sure our financial strategy is prudent, clear and sustainable.
“As a Council we have some big decisions to make as Hamilton strives to become the third-city economy of New Zealand. Today we looked at the ‘big-picture’ challenges we face, and the principles that will underpin how we fund Hamilton’s future.
“These principles will guide us as we balance rates, levels of service and debt. The everyday costs of running our city need to be met from rates, not through debt or from growth-related revenue such as development contributions,” says Mayor Andrew.
“Growth needs to pay its way. We need to look at how we fund and support growth, and how we can find new ways to fund it. Development contributions go towards big infrastructure like roads and water services, but how do we pay for the things that bring a community together like parks, libraries and sports facilities?
“Today’s presentation outlined whether targeted rating – either by area or activity – is one option we could look into. We’re also looking at how we can work with central government and national agencies, as well as private developers and philanthropic groups to enhance Hamilton. Increasing use of user-pays charges where there is a direct benefit for individuals or groups is another option,” says Mayor King.
“Hamilton is already one of New Zealand’s growth success stories. Our 10-Year Plan needs to secure this opportunity and provide a base for our city to build on. We have some long discussions and some difficult decisions to make this year before we take our plan to our communities for consultation next year, but today was an important first step.”