Hamilton City Council's 10-Year Plan debacle descended from confusion to chaos this week as CEO Richard Briggs banned a hard-hitting chair's report to the finance committee by finance chair Garry Mallett.
Mr Briggs said he did not allow the report to be included in the meeting agenda because of "inappropriate content".
In the report, which Cr Mallett circulated privately after the meeting, he says he is convinced that the council is doing a huge injustice to ratepayers by balancing the books from their wallets.
In the city's draft 10-Year Plan now being considered, the council proposes a 20 per cent rates increase over two years.
"It is causing havoc amongst many ratepayers and giving some elected members the heebie-jeebies," Cr Mallett — a qualified accountant — said in his banned report.
"We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem."
He said that elected members, residents and ratepayers have been told the high increase is caused by the rapid growth Hamilton has faced. Cr Mallett believes that it is only driving part of the rates increase and growth is not the major problem.
"This council, along with its predecessors, has failed to address its ever-growing and ever-expanding day-to-day expenditure."
On Tuesday during the finance committee, councillor Ryan Hamilton asked why there was no chair's report in the agenda.
"It was removed. It never got to the starting line," Cr Mallett said.
Councillor Dave Macpherson said there is an agreement that chair's report should regularly sit on the agenda.
"There was a chair's report, but I was advised it did not pass muster so I was asked to withdraw it, not without me squealing a bit," Cr Mallett said.
"On May 15 I was advised by the Hamilton City Council CEO that he would not allow this report to be included in the agenda of that meeting," Cr Mallett said when circulating his banned report.
"Last week I reviewed the proposed agenda and reports for today's finance committee meeting and advised Cr Mallett his draft report would not meet the requirements for inclusion," Mr Briggs said in a statement to the Hamilton News after the meeting.
"The report included commentary on Hamilton City Council's draft 10-Year Plan. Given the current stage of the 10-Year Plan process and the steps the council is yet to take to deliberate and vote on the draft plan, the content was inappropriate in a chair's report for a finance committee meeting."
Mr Briggs said the chief executive has delegated authority to approve agendas to ensure items are considered at the appropriate forum and at the appropriate time.
"This is a process which occurs with all meetings and all chair's reports," he said.
In his banned chair's report, Cr Mallett discusses how the previous council of 2010-13 set out to work on a more sustainable economic track after suffering from the V8s and the early financial woe of the Claudelands Event Centre.
That council during it's 10-year plan resolved to increase rates by 8 per cent, followed by an annual rates increase of 3.8 per cent for the rest of the 2012-22 10-year plan.
"The community was told these rates increase were necessary to balance the council's books, reduce debt and provide rates certainty," Cr Mallet said.
However, he says that now the current council is dealing with the public outcry knowing that the rates increase did not fulfil those objectives.
"The current proposed rates hike to existing ratepayers followed by 3.8 per cent every year through to 2028, are larger than 2012 rates increase and, in some cases, they are financially debilitating. Things are getting worse for ratepayers."
He says the current council has failed to address its ever growing expenditure, and he lists, using council figures, (see below) cost increases from the proposed 10-year plan.
"This growth in expenditure occurs over the entire 10 years."
"Most of the 'business as usual' expenditure comes from growth in the cost of operating and maintaining existing facilities and services with little or no increase in the level of service for our community."
He targets the council-operated H3 groups which is responsible for Hamilton's event facilities, such as the Claudelands Events Centre and FMG Stadium.
In his report he says that the additional rates revenue council collected via the 8 per cent rate increase in 2012, the subsequent 3.8 per cent annual increase plus the rates collected from new ratepayers over the period of 2012-2018 is $47,271,000."
Over that same period, H3 delivered losses of $116,876,062.
"That means every single additional dollar council collected from the rates increase in that period has been swallowed up by H3. H3's losses were $69,605,062 more than the additional rates collected.
"This massive shortfall is not caused by growth, this is day to day business as usual."
Unless council address its massive growth in spending, it's very likely that in the not too distant future, council will once again be faced with looming deficits and once again ratepayers will be faced with huge rate increases in order that council can balance the council's books, reduce debt and provide 'rates certainty' to ratepayers.
Cr Mallett has regularly made comments about either selling Claudelands or having it run by a private partner, while he also did not support the free CBD parking which he says is losing $800,000 per annum.
"It's hard to see any respite for ratepayers."
During the H3 report presented to the finance committee, Cr Mallet engaged in a brief exchange with Mr Briggs.
Cr Mallett: "The 16.9 million figure loss is greater than what next year's rates increase will be."
Mr Briggs: "Is there a question in that Mr Chair? If that is a question I can answer it."
Cr Mallett: "No, one of my jobs here I think is to give councillors information. I have been prevented in giving them that information so I am giving it to them now. Do you have a problem with that Mr CEO."
Mr Briggs: "I have no problem. If that was a question I would have happily answered it."
The city council begins final deliberations on its 10-year plan at the end of next week.
Total expenses increase 11.8 per cent in 2018/19 and 55.9 per cent over the 10-year plan.
2.Personnel costs increase 8.7 per cent in 2018/19 and 42.9 per cent over the 10-year plan.
3.Depreciation/amortisation increase 6.12 per cent in 2018/19 and 65.8 per cent over the 10-year plan.
4.Finance costs increase 9.8 per cent in 2018/19 and 32.6 per cent over the 10-year plan.
5.Operating/maintenance costs increase 23.3 per cent in 2018/19 and 90.6 per cent over the 10-year plan.
6.Professional costs increase 52.1 per cent in 2018/19 and 34.4 per cent over the 10-year plan.
7.Administration costs increase 8.1 per cent in 2018/19 and 45.6 per cent over the 10-year plan.
8.Property costs increase 3.8 per cent in 2018/19 and 35.6 per cent over the 10-year plan.
■ Cr Garry Mallett said these figures were confirmed as accurate by HCC general manager corporate David Bryant.