Some Hamilton ratepayers are speaking out against their city council's plans to sell some of the city's assets to repay its enormous debts.
The Hamilton City Council has proposed a string of sales to service its $400 million of debt but there is strong opposition to its ideas to rid the city of the YMCA in Pembroke St, pensioner housing or two of the city's theatres as residents respond to mayor Julie Hardaker's first 10-year budget.
Residents are also fighting plans to increase rates to keep the same levels of services.
The sale of the YMCA has caused the largest public outcry, and 150 people lodged submissions opposing the sale because the building was an important community facility.
Pensioners living in council housing did not want their homes put on the market because they did not want to leave them.
They also said the units provided an important community service.
Of the 727 submissions received on the council's money-saving long-term plan, 511 were about asset sales.
But those making the submissions were evenly divided on whether they wanted the council to offload them, according to the council's analysis.
The refuse transfer station, the organic recycling centre, the Go Bus depot and the Citizens Advice Bureau were on the top of the don't-sell list.
But the council was given the go-ahead to sell its share in the Novotel and Ibis Hotels, Garden Place Carpark and Horotiu lifestyle blocks.
Some submissions put forward other ideas, suggesting the council sell the $6.84 million-plus Claudelands Event Centre and the Waikato Stadium so they wouldn't be an ongoing drain on ratepayers.
The municipal pool in Victoria St also received 42 submissions against it as its supporters make a final attempt to persuade the council to keep funding the historic landmark long-term.
The council's role and performance was also put under scrutiny and half of those said the council should stick with core functions and walk away from costly items such as the Claudelands Event Centre and V8 Supercars street race series.
Hamilton Citizens and Ratepayers Association president John Easto said rates were twice the rate of inflation, and council costs had exceeded income for the past four years.
Despite disagreement in its ranks, Mr Easto's group recommends selling the Waikato Museum, Waikato Stadium, Claudelands Event Centre and pensioner housing.
Mr Easto said Hamilton's debt was at 250 per cent of total revenue when the Government was recommending a maximum debt of 175 per cent.
This meant rates would have to be increased to an unacceptable level, which would lead to those on fixed incomes becoming destitute.
"After 10 years the forecast is that we will still owe $400 million unless they put a firm brake on spending. We will be heading for a Greek syndrome."
* The Hamilton City Council has proposed a string of asset sales to help reduce its $400 million of debt.
* Residents are opposing the sale of the YMCA in Pembroke St, pensioner housing or two of the city's theatres.
* The community wanted the council to sell Claudelands Event Centre and the Waikato Stadium.By James Ihaka Email James, Nikki Preston Email Nikki