Hamilton City Council has confirmed the 4.9 per cent average rates increase for 2022/23 signalled in the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan.
The budget and work plan for the next financial year, July 1 2022 to June 30 2023, was signed off by elected members on June 30.
The council remains on track to carry out what had already been planned for Year 2 of the Long-Term Plan.
The projects range from the completion of Borman Road, design of the rejuvenated Transport Centre, opening of Te Kete Aronui Rototuna Library, to upgrading the Tristram/Collingwood intersection, sports field drainage and lighting improvements, new exhibits at Hamilton Zoo and Waikato Museum, and significant work across the city's three waters networks.
Determining how the annual plan and budget should flex to the council's current operating environment saw elected members debating the issues for more than 30 hours in March.
New circumstances to factor in included increased costs due to the substantial rise in inflation, the long economic recovery from Covid-19, ongoing conflict in Ukraine, supply chain constraints, and challenges in attracting and retaining personnel.
In addition to what was in Year 2, some proposed projects were added or brought forward, such as school travel plans, increased electricity resilience at Pukete Wastewater Treatment Plant, cycle facility improvements, and funding to support the council's Welcoming Plan. In total, the new projects added $445,000 of operating costs to the annual plan budget.
More than 260 submissions were received, with the majority supporting the council's proposed budget approach – to increase its borrowing to cover the unforeseen cost pressures and new projects, rather than increase rates or cut its work programme.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the budget and work programme had been robustly debated.
"Inflation has thrown a massive curve ball that we are all having to deal with, including Hamilton households. And council is no different," she said.
"At the end of the day, this is about balancing affordability with aspirations and that means compromises had to be made. The key priority, however, remains core infrastructure and the maintaining of existing city assets. And this is something this council has not wavered on."
HCC Annual Plan, by the numbers:
• $325 million budgeted for capital projects
• debt-to-revenue ratio of 208%
• net debt of $772 million
• balancing the books deficit of $13 million
• Council will balance its books in 2025/26, two years later than forecast
New inflation assumptions:
• 6 per cent for personnel operating expenditure
• 5 per cent for other operating expenditure
• 3 per cent for cost-stable capital projects
• 7 per cent for capital projects assessed as more likely to be subject to higher inflation.
What does this mean for your rates?
The new rating value will apply to ratepayers and homeowners from the August 2022 instalment. You can find out what the proposed rates for 2022-23 will be on the council's Property Search Database.
Changes to the Development Contributions (DC) Policy were also approved by the council.
The updated policy reflects the feedback received from the 2021 judicial review and includes a provision to introduce a partial remission (reduction) of DCs for state-integrated schools that make their facilities available to the public for 30 hours per week. The policy is operative from July 1.