Hamiltonians deserve to know more about Council’s spending
May 16, 2012
Hamiltonians deserve to know more about their Council’s spending
Hamilton’s ratepayers deserve a far better explanation on why charges for rubbish collection and water supply are proposed but not yet introduced, the Employers and Manufacturers Association said today as part of its oral submission today on Hamilton City Council’s draft Long Term Plan.
“While the Plan is commendably brief and clear, these additional charges need explaining”, said EMA executive officer Peter Atkinson.
“If the supporting material is too detailed for the Plan there should have been a reference linking to it on the Council website.
“At present kerbside rubbish collections are paid for by rates and the Council has toyed with the idea of bringing in a charge for the bag collection. Ratepayers are entitled to know the reasoning behind decisions like these and they must be included in the Plan.
“A charge for the bag collection helps reduce waste going to landfill and better matches costs to benefits. Given there is no Uniform Annual General Charge applied to Hamilton’s rates, not charging for rubbish collection makes no sense.
“With regard to water supply the Council proposes to raise an extra $900,000 from the 28 per cent of ratepayers who have water meters all of which are commercial and industrial properties.
“So the increase will impact solely on business which is already paying more than double what the residential ratepayers are charged through the rates system.
“We support charges for water that match its cost including the cost of capital, but an increase of this size must be justified in the Plan if the word “consultation” is to mean anything in Hamilton.
“Applying or withdrawing charges is particularly relevant at this time when the Council has been running at a loss for the past five years at a debt level we believe is unsustainable.
“Its helpful that the Council acknowledges this and plans to remedy the debt slide by keeping debt levels about the same for the next 10 years, increasing some user charges to bring in an extra $3.5 million per year, cutting operating budgets by $11.7 million, reducing Council staff numbers, and limiting total rates rises to 3.8 per cent a year.
“The proposed rates increase of 3.8 per cent next year is still more than double inflation, and much more for instance than Rotorua’s low 2.9 per cent increase.
“The Council also plans to sell some assets and review others for possible sale, in order to reduce debt.
“We believe Hamilton International Airport owned by a number of Waikato councils should be partially or completely privatised. We said the same thing about Tauranga Airport.”