The rates and financial challenge issued to councils by Local Government Minister Nick Smith is already being tackled by Hamilton City Council, which has proposed a fixed 3.8% rate increase for each of the next 10 years.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker says the Council has been working hard to get its budget into shape and address issues including rates increases, debt and spending of ratepayers money which the Minister talked about at his speech this week to Nelson Rotarians.
Council’s 10-Year Plan which goes out for public consultation in March proposes a below inflation rate fixed 3.8% rate increase for each of the next 10 years, along with cuts to both operating and capital spending and targeted spending on core city services.
Commenting, Julie Hardaker says: “Local authorities do need to take a far more accountable approach to how ratepayers' money is spent, live within their means and deliver better value for money. That is challenging for a city like Hamilton which is growing fast and which under previous Councils undertook a significant capital expenditure programme over the past seven years, funded by debt.
“But our draft budget for the next 10 years which we will take to the public in March does this. It caps debt, has made significant cuts to operating and capital expenditure, and keeps rates lower than the average inflation rate over the past decade. Our Council will return to surplus within five years and will still deliver a high standard of service to the city.
“I would add however, that over the last decade, legislation, increased infrastructure costs and meeting ratepayer expectations, have added more costs to local government while the financial downturn has affected revenue for many councils. There needs to be a fuller discussion between central and local government about how local authorities can be funded better. I'm pleased the Minister is signalling he wants that to happen.”