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Growth Funding Policies Readied For Public Consultation

A revised policy which details how the costs of growth in Hamilton are shared between ratepayers and developers will be considered by Council next week before public consultation in March and April.

Hamilton, like other high growth cities in New Zealand, faces significant challenges in providing and funding infrastructure to service growth. Charges on new residential, commercial or industrial development, known as Development Contributions (DCs) are one of the main funding tools available to the Council.

In conjunction with Council’s Long-Term Plan consultation, an updated Development Contributions Policy (DC Policy) and Growth Funding Policy have been developed.

Growth costs not covered by DCs or external funding such as Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency subsidies become a cost to the ratepayer. The proposed DC Policy addresses the Council’s costs to enable development, such as building new roads, water pipes or reserves, and identifies a share of these costs based on benefits to the wider city and benefits specific to the development.

In December Council approved the revised policies be developed for consultation and will review the consultation documents and policies at its meeting of 25 February.

There are six key changes in the revised DC Policy.

Social housing providers and charitable trusts providing social houses would be exempted from DC charges under the proposals. To continue supporting a more vibrant CBD, the report recommends extending the current scheme remitting 66% of the DC charges in the CBD for three more years and introducing a total remission of DC charges for CBD buildings six or more storeys high.

The report also recommends non-residential DCs are capped, based on a square-metre rate, for total contributions towards water, wastewater and transport activities, and correspondingly for stormwater on a site area basis.

It is proposed to start charging residential developments for a portion of the cost of community infrastructure, and the final proposal is to introduce a phased transition to any increase in residential DCs in some areas of the city.

The proposal is to split any increases evenly across a three-year period, allowing developers more time to plan for the additional costs and provide the opportunity to accelerate development to take advantage of a reduced charge.

Council will also consider a revised Growth Funding Policy. This policy directs Council’s decision-making for growth projects and associated infrastructure where those projects are not aligned with, or budgeted in, Council’s Long-Term Plan.

The GF Policy ensures decision-making supports affordability and doesn’t negatively impact the Long-Term Plan or Council’s long-term financial sustainability. It also aligns Council’s decisions with the purpose of local government.

Extensive public consultation on the policies, and the Council’s Long-Term Plan, is planned to run from March 5 to April 7, 2021.

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