28 January 2009
Hamilton City Council has signed off its Proposed 2009-2019 Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) and budget for community consultation. The plan reflects the tight economic environment and incorporates significant spending cuts while ensuring major city infrastructure investments are protected and future growth is catered for.
Subject to public consultation, Council propose a rates rise for the next financial year beginning 1 July 2009 of 4.98 per cent to existing ratepayers, which is below the provision made for inflation.
The plan identifies four key factors which drive the planning approach. These incorporate a shift of $200m of projects into unfunded, a deferment of the urban growth programme (reflecting a more ‘just in time approach to development), no change to existing service levels to the community plus a desire to keep rates rises at or close to inflation.
Council has also signalled cuts to the cost of running the Council organisation, including saving approximately $700,000 in staff costs in the coming year, achieved largely through the reassessment of staff positions when existing staff leave. Consultant and legal costs have been held or cut and the budget for the publishing of City News will be reduced by $90,000.
The Event Sponsorship Fund has been reduced by $1 million over the next ten years and the construction of the North East sector library and pool is proposed to be deferred to 2013/2014.
The redevelopment of the Claudelands Events Centre, confirmed at the last Annual Plan, is proposed to proceed subject to achieving resource consent and the outcome of the tender process. However, Council may defer letting the contract until after the submissions process has concluded.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Simcock says the budget and plan was extremely challenging to prepare in the current economic climate.
“We know that many people are going to find life more financially difficult in the months ahead and we are conscious of not adding unnecessarily to that strain. At the same time we have a responsibility to provide for what is required for a city that has grown significantly over the past decade and has aspirations to be a safe, sustainable and happy place to live.
“All projects now proposed as unfunded have been examined by Council and are universally recognised as important; however, in a rapidly deteriorating economic environment we must take a prudent approach to the prioritisation of the city’s needs.
“It is also important to remember that while the plan covers a 10 year period, it is reviewed every three years. Potentially the economic climate may improve within that timeframe and there is the flexibility to re-introduce projects based on affordability. The first three years, however, are critical to the immediate economic well-being of the city.
“There have been many difficult choices made in this budget and I see it as essential that the wider community engages in the consultation period and gives clear feedback on the approach taken.”
The public consultation period opens on 20 March and closes 20 April 2009. Council considers public submissions to the plan and then meets again to confirm the LTCCP prior to 1 July.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Name: Bob Simcock
Designation: Hamilton Mayor
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6976
Name: Sarah Bettle
Designation: Communication manager
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6507
Mobile: 021 428 748
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6761