12 March 2012
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker presented her first State of the City Address of the year, outlining the plan to resolve the city’s financial challenges and her priorities for 2012.
The recent event marked the 21st year of the Mayor of Hamilton giving an annual address to the Rotary Club of Frankton. Around 100 members attended the event held at Gallagher Group and celebrated the significant milestone with a 21st Birthday cake.
During her address, Mayor Hardaker reflected on 2011, set out her priorities for the year ahead and talked about changes to local government signalled by central government, as well as Hamilton’s leadership role in the region and upper North Island.
Looking ahead for 2012 the Mayor told the audience the key priorities for the coming year were to continue the prudent financial management of the city set out in the 10 year plan. One of the focuses in the coming year will be on looking at asset sales to repay debt and working in partnership with the private sector.
Ms Hardaker said the Council was committed to continue to deliver good city governance through recent changes to ensure greater accountability, transparency and robust decision making and accountability processes.
The Mayor told the Rotarians that delivering a River Plan to the city was a key priority for the coming year. This plan would identify what projects over the coming decades would ensure the city made the most of the Waikato River.
Completing a new district plan is also on the list of priorities for this coming year, this will include a focus on stronger controls on commercial activities in residential areas, identifying different types of retail centres in the city, more opportunity for environmental initiatives and intensification. For the first time, Hamilton will also have a master plan for the CBD.
Another key priority identified by the Mayor is an economic development strategy for the city which will give clarity around the role local government has to play.
The Mayor told the audience the Council was working on developing a more customer focused service for residents and businesses ensuring the people of Hamilton can easily do business with a customer focussed, responsive and efficient organisation.
In her address, Mayor Julie Hardaker acknowledged the negativity directed towards Hamilton City Council over the last year, particularly around the fallout from the V8 Audit Report. “I was elected on a mandate of openness and financial accountability and so I make no apology for the high level of public and media scrutiny”
“There’s no doubt 2011 was a challenging year, however Council is now well placed to move forward positively with some tough issues sorted and key decisions made.
“High on the agenda for the start of the year is our draft 10-Year Plan. It opens for consultation later this month and delivers a balanced budget within three years, holds debt and caps rates rises at 3.8% for each year of the next 10 years.
“I will be working hard across the six key priorities for this year, set against a background of much signalled local government reform - it’s clear 2012 will again be a dynamic year for the city.”
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