Hamilton City Council has approved a new long-term plan for the city that will bring an average rates rise to existing ratepayers of 8.9 per cent for the 2021-22 year, followed by annual increases of 4.9 per cent.
The 8.9 per cent increase is made up of a general annual average rates increase of 4.4 per cent plus a government compliance rate of 4.5 per cent to pay for regulatory requirements around water, as well as government-driven changes to the district plan.
Last week's formal adoption of the long-term plan will mean the council investing $2.5 billion in capital projects plus a further $3.7 billion on operating activity over the next decade.
Specific investments upon which the city council sought community feedback include:
• $55 million over 10 years to provide safe walking, biking, scooting and skating routes
• $3 million to upgrade the Gordonton Rd-Puketaha Rd intersection
• $22 million to upgrade the Borman Rd and Horsham Downs intersection as well as the Borman Rd East project (including an $8 million subsidy yet to be confirmed)
• $5 million to expand the Hillcrest Library
• A creative sector funding trial of $100,000 a year over three years
• $11 million for a new walking and cycling bridge across the Waikato River
• $6 million to build a seasonal dome over the outdoor pool at Waterworld
• $29 million over 10 years to improve and restore the city's gullies.
The plan budgets for the council to balance its books by 2023-24, meaning the city will no longer be borrowing to pay for everyday costs. Council's debt-to-revenue ratio is forecast to peak at 276 per cent in 2025-26.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate thanked staff and councillors for their work in pulling together a mammoth piece of work for the city. She noted greater community interest and engagement in the plan, and hoped it signalled an era of increased community involvement in the business of the council.
"There are huge challenges ahead for us as a city in terms of preparing well for growth and specifically what that means for infrastructure. And of course we have been extremely mindful, especially given Covid-19, of very real and genuine issues around affordability, including for our business ratepayers, " she said
"We have been prudent and recognised the significant future challenges and opportunities, meeting the needs of a fast-growing city, with homes, transport, water services, strong communities and a sustainable environment. These are long-term decisions, which will impact on people in our city for generations to come."
The council has also approved the Development Contributions Policy and the Growth Funding Policy, both to be operative from July 1.