Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Hamilton is ‘go’ for largest engagement campaign ever

Hamilton City Council has pushed ‘go’ on its most comprehensive community engagement campaign ever.

Today Council formally shares its 2021-31 draft Long-Term Plan with the community, asking people what they think of proposals that in some instances have been years in the making.

The draft Plan, which is reviewed and updated every three years, proposes to spend $3.7 billion over 10 years on ‘everyday’ costs of running the city – such as rubbish, roads and community facilities. There’s also $2.5 billion of proposed capital funding to look after existing assets, build new infrastructure and for new community projects.

Council also wants feedback on 11 projects costing more than $146 million, ranging from major intersection upgrades to a new way to fund creative endeavours. All up, Council is proposing an 8.9% average annual rate increase in 2021/22. Of that, 4.5% would be ring-fenced to pay for government compliance costs mainly related to water and a review of the city’s District Plan.

At the same time, Council is seeking input on proposed changes to its Revenue and Financing Policy, as well as feedback on how best residents, ratepayers and developers can share the cost of a growing city, through its Development Contributions Policy and Growth Funding Policy.

To help simplify Council’s finances, two videos have been produced explaining key parts of its Financial Strategy and what rates pay for.

Communication and Engagement Unit Manager, Natalie Palmer said the expectations of the Mayor and Councillors were crystal clear.

“Councillors want it to be very easy for everyone in our city to have their say on our Plan and that’s what this engagement programme will deliver. We’re using multiple channels to reach people, some for the first time, and there will be around 38 face-to-face opportunities, more than one a day, for people to speak directly to Elected Members and/or Council staff,” said Ms Palmer.

She said the programme was the fourth phase of a community engagement effort which began soon after a new Council was elected in 2019. That programme had influenced five priorities for the city and the draft Long-Term Plan was based around those priorities, she said.

People could share their views via the futurehamilton.co.nz website, by filling in a hard copy form, emailing ltp@hcc.govt.nz or messaging Council on its FacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn pages. All types of feedback will be analysed and presented to Councillors, Ms Palmer said.

By early next week, the draft Long-Term Plan consultation document and submission form will be available in te reo Maaori, simple Chinese, traditional Chinese and Hindi, and a New Zealand sign language video is also available.

“No voice will be left behind. I can hand on heart say that we have done everything to ensure there has been a very strong community voice as part of this process all the way through,” said Ms Palmer.

“But this is where it all comes together; this is when people really need to grab the opportunity to share their views on tangible, costed proposals.”

Mayor Paula Southgate thanked staff who had worked to make the draft Plan accessible and said now it was up to the community to get involved.

“The Plan sets budgets and work programmes for a decade, but it has much bigger implications than that. Once it is finalised, it will set in place work that will impact on our city, our children and our grandchildren for decades to come,” she said.

“People need to be part of it and make sure their voice is heard before Council makes final decisions in June. I truly hope as many people as possible take the time to get involved and speak up for their city.”

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