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Hamilton City Council has adopted its 2024-34 Long-Term Plan, which seeks to weigh up delivering the essential work residents value, everyday costs being met by everyday revenue, and keeping rates as low as possible given the significant financial challenges.

Those challenges are being faced by households and businesses across New Zealand, with interest and inflation rates heavily impacting local government, especially high-growth cities like Hamilton.

The final version of Council’s Long-Term Plan, adopted today (Thursday 4 July), will see continued delivery of all current services, such as keeping library and pool opening hours, gardens maintained and city tidy, and the kerbside residential rubbish and recycling collection schedule.

Investment in critical infrastructure will total $4.4 billion over the next 10 years.  

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said: “Council has been through a long and hard process to achieve a fair and reasonable budget, in extraordinarily difficult times. We all acknowledge that it’s not perfect, but I firmly believe it strikes the right balance with regards to the community’s concerns around rates and doing the core work we need to do, to keep our city in good shape today and over the next 10 years."

Major changes were made to the final budget to reduce the rates, based on almost 3000 submissions from individuals, organisations and businesses, including:  

  • Additional reductions of around $282 million in years 1-5 to the capital programme. This includes deferral of around $172 million of projects into later years.  
  • Subject to a ministerial decision, $31.5 million of Crown funding for a walking and cycling bridge in the central city reprioritised towards critical water infrastructure.
  • Savings of $33 million over the 10 years through personnel reductions to Council’s back-office functions and cuts to consultant budgets. This is in addition to savings of $94 million over the 10 years made through the Chief Executive’s ‘Future Fit’ programme. 

“This plan prioritises the city’s upkeep now and in the future, and looks after our community, all while ensuring that Council balances its books by year three,” said Mayor Southgate. 

The phasing of infrastructure investment ensures Council remains below the debt limit set by the Local Government Funding Agency, which requires debt to be no more than 285% of our revenue in 2024/25, and no more than 280% in all subsequent years.

To achieve this, the average general rates increase in 2024/25 is 16.5% ($9 a week for a median value residential property). The rates increase will reduce by about one percentage point annually over the following four years (15.5%, 14.6%, 13.5%, 12.5%).  

“It is not easy or comfortable,” said Mayor Southgate. “Rates are going up across the country, at a time people and businesses are really struggling. There is no magic solution - the funding system that relies mainly on today’s ratepayer is broken. We need to work with Government and do things differently if we are to succeed. Meanwhile, we cannot run the city down while solutions are found. We need new water services, homes and to look after our city. That can’t wait.”


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