5 June 2018
After two days of deliberations on the city's 10-Year Plan last week Hamilton City Council has set the projects and budget for the decade ahead, subject to formal adoption on 28 June.
After considering verbal and written submissions through public consultation, and making changes to the draft Plan, average rates changes have been set at a 9.7% increase for 2018/19 and 3.8% annually after that. This is a reduction from the rates proposed in the draft Plan.
Over the next three years, the Council will complete the transition to full capital value rating, a process begun in 2015. There will also be a three-year transition to a Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) of $500. The UAGC is a fixed portion of rates and not an additional charge.
The rates proposals for public consultation were for two years of 9.5% increases and an immediate transition to UAGC and Capital Value rating.
The Council is currently updating its online rates information so ratepayers can see what the changes mean to their properties. The search tool on the Council’s website will be offline until the end of this week while this update takes place.
At the same meeting the Council confirmed a proposed Development Contributions Policy, identified its preferred option to support growth and endorsed a $251M transport improvement programme to be delivered over the next decade.
The Peacocke growth cell is the Council’s preferred growth option, ahead of Rotokauri. Opening Peacocke for development is supported by a 10-year interest-free loan from the Government plus significant NZ Transport Agency subsidies and will include a new bridge across the Waikato River.
The full transport improvement programme in the draft plan has also been endorsed, funding three investment areas – managing congestion, improving safety, and supporting transport choices such as walking, cycling and public transport. More than half of the $251M programme is expected to be funded by subsidies from NZ Transport Agency.
The Council has also required the Chief Executive to deliver an $83M reduction in operating expenses over the 10 years of the Plan.
The Central City Park - River Plan proposal, a vision to purchase and demolish buildings to create a new park area and open Victoria St to the river, has been amended. The Council resolved to remove all funding in the proposed plan other than $7M to purchase property.
The Council resolved to support the proposed Waikato Regional Theatre, committing $25M to the $73M project. Philanthropic group Momentum Waikato is raising the remaining $48M from across the region, including a proposed $5M from the Waikato Regional Council. Hamilton City Council would not own or operate the new theatre but would support it with a $1.1M annual operating grant.
A $19.6M project for a community hub in Rototuna has been endorsed. The hub will include a library, public square, part of the development of a town centre in the suburb, and space for a swimming facility to be developed separately with a commercial operator.
A proposal for an entrance charge at Hamilton Gardens this year was not supported, the Council instead opting for a multi-faceted approach to funding the Gardens. This includes a targeted rate on all city ratepayers of $10 in the first year of the 2018-28 10-Year Plan, increasing by $1 per year for the following nine years. The Council also resolved to seek a proposal from the Hamilton Gardens Development Trust to complete the Gardens development and identify funding options which could include a future entrance fee for international visitors and enhanced donations.
Hamilton’s Playgrounds of the Future Plan has been supported with a resolution that one third of the funding to implement the plan is to be sought from external funders, and approving $5.5M in capital expenditure across the next 10 years.
The Council has also endorsed a $4M grant towards the construction of a new indoor recreation facility in partnership with the University of Waikato. This facility will be available for community use.
The Council has not supported the draft Plan’s proposal for an upgrade of Garden Place, but has requested staff seek expressions of interest from the private sector to fully fund improvements and has allocated $100,000 in Years 1-3 of the 10-Year Plan to support the Hamilton Central Business Association’s plans to activate the central city.
The city’s sports parks received a boost as the Council resolved to allocate $3M in capital expenditure in Years 2-4 of the 10-Year Plan for a programme of drainage and irrigation improvements, plus a further $711,000 in operating expenditure in Years 2-10.
Funding has been confirmed for a new fenced dog exercise area at a cost of $177,000, with the location to be decided following community consultation. A further $760,000 has been allocated to develop a loop track, viewing platforms, toilet facilities, signage, fencing and bridges at Waiwhakereke Natural Heritage Park.
Capital funding of $2.2M over the first three years of the Plan has been set aside for a new shared entry precinct for the Hamilton Zoo and Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park, with a request for staff to raise an additional $3M in external funding for the project. A further $350,000 in the third year of the Plan has been allocated to develop a new ‘lemur walkthrough’ exhibit at the Hamilton Zoo.
Other decisions include funding $200,000 for the improvement of the front areas and customer service areas of the Central Library, a 10% increase in the community assistance fund, and an allocation of $2M towards research, administration, concept and architectural and engineering designs and plans, and consent applications for providers of social housing in Hamilton. The fund would be managed by an appropriate body formed from the community sector.
The Council’s printed newspaper, City News, will be replaced by a digital solution, and the Council also resolved not to support the sale of Old St Peter’s Hall.
The Plan will now be audited before a meeting on 28 June to adopt it. The Plan is scheduled to take effect from 1 July 2018.