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Friday, December 15, 2017 All of your local news FREE! Hamilton NEWS . Gift of chooks for Christmas Fairfield helps its own page 20 page 2 Council fails to tame rates BLOOMIN’ AT KINDY 9.5 per cent for two years Tom Rowland INSIDE: A massive rates rise for Hamilton looks like being spread across two years after five days of intensive debate by councillors of a new 10-year plan for the city. If the plan survives public input ratepayers will be hit by a 9.5 per cent rise each year for two years. The plan debate started with a proposal on the table for a 15.5 per cent rates hike. While discussing projects for the city, councillors looked for ways to trim the increase and were caught off guard on Wednesday evening when the council number crunchers showed a 16 per cent rates rise would be needed to balance the books. Councillors made a hurried attempt to revoke and push back projects such as Garden Place from the 10 year plan, but the votes were not there to overturn them. At that stage a 75 per cent majority vote would have been needed to change earlier decisions. It will be part of a draft long-term plan which will go out for public consultation early in 2018 and if signed off, it will take effect in the 2018/19 financial year. Mayor Andrew King said the budget is now in the community’s hands. “After three or four long marathon days, this is about putting it out to the community so they can understand the true cost of trying to run our city,” Mr King said. “All along the end game here was to get it out in front of the public so it can get feedback from the public. “What I want for Hamilton is strong and sound sustainable books going forward from here.” Councillor Dave Macpherson suggested a 9.5 per cent increase for two years, and then going back to 3.8 per cent increases which was voted through to ease the pressure on ratepayers. The second year’s increase could be reduced if the council can get a proposed regional fuel tax implemented. Before After Kathy lost 12kgs in 13 weeks Six more pages of coverage of the HCC 10 Year Plan — pages 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12. “A very large rates increase of 16 per cent in one hit is an extreme situation for our ratepayers to handle,” Mr Macpherson said. “I think the load should be spread but not so far that it goes into the life of the next council. “The second 9.5 has a chance that it can be reduced further but that is the worse possible scenario that we will stay with the 9.5.” Councillor James Casson wants to see the results of public consultation. “I’m hoping that every one of the councillors sitting around the table will listen to those ratepayers,” Mr Casson said. “If they overwhelmingly do not want something to go ahead then I am hoping we will listen to them and vote that out. “I am pretty disappointed that we have go to this point where the rates have got to 16 per cent.” Councillor Rob Pascoe said spreading the rates over the two years would help due to the immediate change to capital value in 2018/19. “It also provides an opportunity to phase in the regional fuel tax if we are successful in having this new stream of income,” Mr Pascoe said. “I think it will be really important to put in the consultation document that the regional fuel tax will be an adjustment to rates.” Councillor Paula Southgate said the rates rise has come as a huge surprise to the public along with the immediate change to capital value. “Many many people will not get that average rates increase. Many people will get more, much more,” Ms Southgate said. “Yes we know that our rates are lower than some other centres and yes we need to ■ Continued Page 3 Before After Colin lost 23kgs Before Kindy kids in Hamilton have won some top awards in the annual Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project. Fairfield Kindergarten won Overall Best Photo with this gorgeous picture of 4-year-old Ma¯ ia, who loved to compare her height against the growing sunflowers. Over at Frankton Kindergarten they grew not only the Widest Sunflower in the region but also the Tallest Sunflower in the country — and in the project’s history. For the full story and more photos turn to Page 17. Photo / Supplied After Rose lost 46kgs