Wednesday 13 December 2017
Yesterday was the fourth day of debate on Mayor Andrew King’s initial draft budget, a document which Hamilton City Council will develop into a draft plan for public consultation early next year. Resolutions are subject to any changes which the Council may make before the draft 10-Year Plan is complete.
Once the Council approves a draft plan it will go to public consultation early next year, including a submissions process and hearings, before adoption of the final plan in June 2018. All decisions and approvals are subject to confirmation by the Council following the consultation process, when the 10-Year Plan is complete.
The public will have the opportunity to comment on all proposals, including those which are unfunded in the draft plan, during the consultation period.
The early focus of the meeting was how development and growth costs can be offset, with the Council resolving to introduce a targeted rate for development-ready land, and making changes to development contributions (for the purposes of preparing a draft Development Contributions Policy). These included removing CBD development contribution remissions, removing caps on development contribution charges, and extending the timeframe for projects which development contributions can be charged against.
Funding of $160,000 was approved for a new fenced dog exercise area in the city plus $17,000 for new bins in city parks and operating expenditure of $13,000 annually to maintain the facilities.
The Council resolved to approve capital funding of $760,000 in 2018/19 and associated operating expenses across 10 years of $2.025 million to complete projects to open Waiwhakareke Park to the public. The project includes a loop track, viewing platforms, toilets and basic signage, fencing and bridges.
The Council approved staff enter into further discussions with the University of Waikato regarding a partnership arrangement to enable the construction of a new indoor recreation facility. The approval is subject to a business case being approved by the Council and the resolution included allocation of a total of $4 million in operating expenditure in Years 4 and 5 of the 10-Year Plan for a grant towards construction. The resolution also proposed a further $2 million be collected from regional ratepayers in Year 4 of the plan, with staff to report back to the Council with further information for consideration and approval.
A proposal to introduce a minimum wage of $20.00 for all Council employees from next year was amended to a phased introduction, over a four-year period.
A proposal in the Mayor’s initial budget to close the city’s i-SITE was lost, and a resolution was carried to continue the service; requesting staff report back in six months on opportunities to restructure the service to return a break-even result.
A proposal to continue the funding of the Gallagher Performing Arts centre at up to $140,000 annually was not endorsed by the Council. A 20-Year funding agreement between the Council and the centre concludes this year.
Changes to the commission structure for ArtsPost were approved, with a reduction in commission charges for Hamilton-based artists from July 2018, and the Council also resolved to halt publication of the Council’s newspaper, City News, from July 2018 and replace it with a digital version.
Proposals for funding to develop the central city library’s connection with Garden Place, and to improve Hillcrest Library and Chartwell Library were not endorsed by the Council.
A proposal to sell Endowment Fund property was adjourned to allow for discussion at a future meeting of the Council prior to 31 August 2018, and the Council also approved the sale of Old St Peters Hall.
Funding for Waikato Means Business for regional economic development was approved to the value of $140,000 annually plus a pro-rata contribution of $90,000 in the current financial year with proportionate funding from other local authorities and other funding sources. These decisions are subject to an earlier Council resolution being satisfied, which included provision of feedback from the Mayoral Forum, finalisation of funding and an operating and governance model.
Council reconvened this afternoon to debate further aspects of the plan.
A dedicated 10-Year Plan page section on the Council’s website contains formal resolutions and further detail at www.hamilton.govt.nz/10yearplan.