Hamilton City Council receives 3000 submissions for Long-Term Plan

6:09 pm on 24 April 2024
Hamilton City Council’s endorsement of the bill review makes it the fourth Council in New Zealand to show its support

Hamilton City Council’s endorsement of the bill review makes it the fourth Council in New Zealand to show its support Photo: Hamilton City Council

Anger, understanding and pleas for niche funding areas are all part of the nearly 3000 submissions received for the Hamilton City Council's draft Long-Term Plan.

The council has proposed a 19.9 percent rates rise for the next financial year, with annual increases adding up to 81 percent over five years.

Many submitters like David Bird expressed horror at the proposal. In his submission, Bird said the proposal was "obscene".

"The [council] and their paid bureaucrats clearly are out of touch with what the people of Hamilton can afford," he said.

However, some submitters expressed empathy for the situation the council was in.

"Better the books are balanced as soon as possible," Paula Ryan said.

Submitters were asked to provide their ideas on how the council could save money and lower the proposed rate rises.

Maree Szanto's main feedback was to ask how things got so bad.

She wondered whether councillors would take a pay cut, but she wanted to see the Boon Street Art Festival still funded and more public artwork on council owned buildings.

Submitter Helen Roach said the mayor, councillors, and chief executive should all take a pay cut.

Susan Graham submitted lots of ideas for cutting costs and said the council should remove education programmes, climate-related projects, buses that "do not earn their way", city safety projects, events, the museum, street cleaning, council communications and marketing, and anything that volunteer groups could do.

However, Russell Knaap said in his submission that "actually it's not my job to identify individual savings".

More than 120 submissions were on behalf of an organisation.

Many of these focused on specific parts of the budget. For example, Richard Tuhoro submitted on behalf of the Hamilton Baseball Association on the need for lighting at Mahoe Park.

Several national organisations and businesses, including Air New Zealand and SkyCity, were critical of the proposal to reduce funding of Hamilton and Waikato Tourism (HWT) by 50 percent.

"In our view, HWT is one of the most high-performing Regional Tourism Organisations (RTO) in New Zealand who operate with the least funding," Jason Dawson, on behalf of Air New Zealand, said.

"Given the visitor economy is still suffering from the long-tail of impacts from Covid-19 and the current cost-of-living crisis, the timing is not right to reduce any further support for HWT as the sector struggles to rebuild and maintain competitiveness in an ever-changing international market," he said.

Council staff will now prepare a report on the submissions which will show any themes or patterns to the feedback.

Council will hear verbal submissions in late May.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs