Ratepay­ers boy­cotting plan process

Hamilton News - - Front Page - Tom Row­land

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.

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