Rates a recurring theme at Hamilton City Council hearings

A proposal for two years of 9.5 per cent rates increases hasn't impressed Hamilton City ratepayers, who showed up in council chambers to cry foul.

Hamilton residents and businesses left reeling by a proposed rates rises have unleashed their frustration at councillors.

The city council has proposed two years of 9.5 per cent - on average - increases coupled with a sped-up transition to full capital value rating if council's preferred option goes ahead.

But it's not just individual ratepayers feeling it, as councillors heard on Monday.

Braemar Hospital faces a staggering increase of $358,000 over five years, submitter Paul Bennett said.

"How can any business absorb that?"

Braemar's rates were about $50,000 in 2015, he said, and - with the proposed changes - would be "a whopping $408,000" by 2020.

"We don't have the ability to pass it on to our patients. Not that we would want to pass this amount on to our patients - it's staggering."

Bennett recommended council cap increases and decreases to avoid extremes, and suggested five to 15 per cent as an appropriate range.

There's no justification for an increase of more than 3.8 per cent, retired chartered accountant Ian Bridges said, noting "glaring increases in expenditure".

He lives in Alandale Retirement Village and said the changes would increase unit rates by about $500 each year.
"People are pretty desperate."

"You could," former council candidate Deborah Fisher said, "downsize and/or defer many of the wants in the budget and reduce the amount of extra income you expect Hamiltonians to provide."

"This budget is not the most cost-effective option. Try harder."

Former mayor David Braithwaite said the council's finances were a shambles, and difficult for the average person to understand.

"You are saying, council, that you're borrowing money to run the city. That's not correct."

Frequent submitter Geoff Kreegher wanted a people's tax based on the number living in a property but councils can't legally do that, Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher said.

Roger Hennebry said he'd copped some rates flak at the pub.

"A guy got stuck into me because he thought I was still a councillor," the former councillor turned Grey Power Hamilton president said.

"I gave him all your names."

Hennebry's had Grey Power people crying, saying they'll have to move out of their homes, he said.

Some members would be $1000 worse off in 2018, he said, after a Waikato Regional Council rates increase, loss of power rebates, and Hamilton City rate rises.

One of few who would accept a rate rise was James Bevan, who would rather live in a nice city than a cheap one.

"Even if you did a 12 per cent rate rise it would bring you up to parity with Taupō District Council," he said, basing his numbers off a New Zealand Taxpayers' Union report on affordability.

Council was suggesting positive projects for the city, he said, and could harness volunteer groups to achieve more.


From Stuff.co.nz