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Millions Moved From Capital Budget To Reduce Rates Impact

Hamilton City Council will debate a revised rates scenario and what happens with community funding at its Long-Term Plan deliberations meeting next week.

Council’s draft Long-Term Plan budget, which went out for community consultation in March and April, proposed a rates increase of 19.9% in 2024/25, followed by four years of 15.5% increases.

Following direction from Mayor Paula Southgate, Council staff have identified $136 million of deferrals to Council’s capital programme in the first five years of the Long-Term Plan to bring the rates increases down. The changes improve Council’s debt-to-revenue position and enable the rates increase to be reduced to 19.2% in in 2024/25, and 14.5% in the subsequent four years.

Council staff have also proposed additional options that would bring the rates rise down further. The additional deferrals will be debated at next week’s Council meeting and include:

  • adopting a ‘maintenance only’ approach to transport projects for three years
  • reducing the renewals and compliance budget by $27.5 million in the next three years (or $5 million next year only)
  • removing $10 million of funding for strategic land acquisition
  • deferring nearly $75 million that would go towards a new wastewater treatment plant
  • cancelling the School Link project.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said, “We’ve heard that people across the community are hurting. There is no magic solution but we must do everything in our power to reduce the burden on residents, without undermining our core services or vital investment in our city.” 

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The revised finance proposal still sees Council balancing its books in 2026/27 and remain at least 5% below its debt-to-revenue limit in every year.

Community funding to be reconsidered

Elected Members will also look at reinstating the funding for community groups that had been proposed to be reduced.

The draft Long-Term Plan budget included proposed reductions to:

  • Hamilton and Waikato Tourism
  • Community services grants
  • Event sponsorship
  • Cat-desexing contestable funding.

“Times are tough and we have heard overwhelmingly that community support and wellbeing is more crucial than ever,” said Southgate. “It hugely bothers me to take funding away from the community. These groups support those most in need and make our city fun and vibrant. I will be strongly advocating for the re-instatement of existing funding to the community sector, whilst finding savings elsewhere.”

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