Hamilton City Council has signed off on the city's 10-year plan after 18 months of debate, controversy and public outcry.
It began last December with Mayor Andrew King proposing a 16 per cent rates increase, and ended today with ratepayers being hit by a 9.7 per cent rates increase.
A record number of public submissions was made to the council, as a proposed central city park development raised eyebrows, a redevelopment of Garden Place received overwhelming backlash from the public and the Waikato Regional Theatre slipped through, despite some concerns over its location and cost.
Mayor Andrew King said today this was the budget Hamilton needs to repair the city.
"This is Hamilton's fix it budget. This is about growth and to make good on a promise,"
"This is about fixing and looking after what we have."
"It is about building a city that we can be proud of and show off to our visitors."
The mayor's optimism was not shared by some of his councillors, however.
Councillor Rob Pascoe said the lack of notice and earlier discussion around late projects
brought a cloud over the 10-year plan process.
"For a reasonable number of the projects we have had time to debate, but disappointingly some have come at the last minute and perhaps the lack of notice and earlier discussions have been an issue," Pascoe said.
He raised concerns again over the the central city park project, and the fact that an audit report had not been provided to councillors. A draft Audit NZ opinion on the plan was given to councillors this morning - but did not include a report on on the Victoria Street buildings purchase.
Councillor Pascoe put up an amendment to request a hold the $7m to purchase buildings until the outcome of that audit report is known, but the amendment failed to gain enough support.
The report will now come to council during an August meeting.
"If you look back at the submissions, the city park was not favoured by a number of submitters," Pascoe said.
"The feedback I am getting now is how much is this project going to cost."
"I think a lot more work has been done on the project than I am aware."
Councillor Angela O'Leary called the 10-year plan a win/loss situation.
"It has been one of the toughest LTPs I have been through personally," O'Leary said.
"In my mind I cannot forget that this will challenge many of our residents, particularly
those on low and fixed incomes."
Councillor Garry Mallett said there was unnecessary hysteria around the $7 million being put aside to buy buildings on Victoria Street for the park.
"There is no project, there is a huge amount of work to be done before we spend that money at all," Mallett said.
"We did have the opportunity to go with less expenditure, but we did not do that."
"If we were prepared to live without a CBD Library, live without an iSite and start paying for parking back in the town, that would be $84 million back to us across the 10-year plan."
Councillor Siggi Henry asked if the council had listened at all to the ratepayers.
"I am looking forward to more real discussions, real discussions and not just talked to," Henry said.
Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher said that the criticism of Mayor Andrew King was uncalled for.
"Can some of you just once say that this mayor is the first and only mayor that put funding for a Rototuna community hub," Gallagher said.
"Just once, be nice and say good on you, Andrew."
Councillors Paula Southgate, Siggi Henry and Angela O'Leary voted against the 10-year plan.
Mayor Andrew King, Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher and Councillors Dave Macpherson,
Ryan Hamilton, Geoff Taylor, Mark Bunting, Leo Tooman, James Casson, Garry Mallett and Rob Pascoe voted for it.