Ratepayers boycotting plan process
Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association is boycotting Hamilton’s 10-year plan process.
The association is opposed to all six options proposed for rate rises that are addressed in the 10-Year plan review, and on April 24 announced they would not be submitting their thoughts on the plan.
In December, councillors decided their preferred option on a rates rise for the 10-year plan was a 9.5 per cent increase for both the first and second year of plan.
This option also includes an immediate move to capital value and the inclusion of a $500 UAGC charge.
However, in the public consultation document there are five other options to comment on.
“HRRA instead hereby lodge a directive to Hamilton City Council to return to the drawing board and try again,” the association said.
“The commitment to the previously agreed 2015 plan of 3.8 per cent should be honoured, being more consistent with New Zealand’s projected rate of inflation,” the association said in a statement.
“In addition, the council should become more disciplined and learn to live within its means rather than expecting to call upon the ratepayers to finance its excesses, which includes the $22 million in interest on present council debt.”
Hamilton City Council general manager strategy and communication, Sean Hickey, said yesterday that no decisions had yet been made on the 10-year plan.
“The council’s draft 10-year Plan is going through a formal consultation process. No final decisions have yet been made and community views are an important part of shaping the final plan,” Mr Hickey said.
“We are seeking submissions on the proposals in the draft plan, or on other ideas the community may have. We have already had a great response from individuals and organisations through the consultation period, and those submissions will be considered by the Council in coming weeks and months.”
“This is the opportunity for Hamiltonians to have their say on the future of our city, and we want people to be involved. If people choose not to make submissions we won’t be able to present their thoughts to the council through the submission process.”
The statement by the association was met with a strong negative response on the Residents and Ratepayers social media page, with many saying that now is the time to be heard.
Councillor Rob Pascoe responded saying that submitting is “much, much better” than a boycott.
“There are so many decisions in this plan that either made the plan with a 7-5 majority or the mayor’s casting vote that the plan is a long way from being done and dusted. It’s now over to residents to make their views clear as to what is needed to move the city forward,” Cr Pascoe said.
“When has any council listened and taken on what submitters ask for? Our previous mayor did not want to hear from us at all in 2016. When is enough enough,” the association said.
One commentator, Dave Doggart, sided with councillor Pascoe saying that a submission would send a better message to council.
“Do not boycott the process, but simply make the press release your submission.
“Boycotting simply means that you won’t be heard at all — which is really quite silly,” Mr Doggart said.
Geoff Kreegher said that the association was letting the city down by boycotting.
“Boycotting the submission process displays a mature attitude (not) and will achieve diddly squat.
“If advocating a boycott then the Residents and Ratepayers abrogate their right to say anything re the 10-year Plan, particularly the rates rise. That is not standing up for and supporting the very people the organisation claims to represent,” Mr Kreegher said.
The 10-Year Plan public submission process closes on April 30 before the verbal hearings are held in May.
Council will then return to debate the final document in June before adopting it at the end of the month.