Hamilton City Council’s 2020/21 Annual Plan includes sod turning for a new bridge across the Waikato River, starting the build of an entrance precinct for Hamilton Zoo and Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park, and continuing to support the city’s recovery from COVID-19.
The 2020/21 Annual Plan, which sets out budgets and work programmes for the financial year (1 June 2020 to 31 July 2021), was formally adopted at today’s (10 August) Council meeting.
The meeting also saw rates set for 2020/21. The average annual rates increase is 2.8%, 1% lower than what was proposed for this year in the 2018-28 10-Year Plan.
As well as the reduced rates increase, the Council’s response to COVID-19 for 2020/21 is $1.2 million of targeted relief to support ratepayers, businesses and community groups hit hardest by its impact.
The new bridge over the Waikato River linking Peacocke and Hillcrest will cater to all types of transport including public transport and separated paths for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge is planned to open in 2023.
The $5.4 million first stage of the project to build a new entrance for Hamilton Zoo and Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park delivers a new Zoo entry building, including upgraded visitor access and ticketing, an improved education space, a public-facing café and toilets and a new walkway linking the Zoo to Waiwhakareke.
Other key projects include the new Ancient Egyptian Garden and Palm Court at Hamilton Gardens, development of community facilities and a sports park in Rototuna, $10.4 million to implement our Biking Plan, and a new central city jetty below Waikato Museum.
All up, the Council will continue with $302.8 million worth of capital projects to help get the local economy back on track, while catering for growth.
On top of the COVID-19 response budget, a number of other new initiatives have been added to what was originally set out for Year 3 of the 10-Year Plan:
- $270,000 to support the Economic Development Committee
- $353,000 to increase the minimum wage for Council to the hourly rate set by Living Wage Aotearoa
- $280,000 to fund the work of the Environment Committee, including the Council’s response to climate change
- $100,000 for gully restoration.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the Annual Plan reflected feedback Council had received from Hamiltonians. She was pleased to see a slight softening in rates from what had originally been proposed, given the extraordinary circumstances now being faced by people in the city.
“Our residents gave us a clear direction to maintain our COVID-19 support, reduce costs by deferring nearly $60 million of capital projects, and reprioritise work based on community need and emerging issues.
“Due to the exceptional times and the impact of COVID-19, the Annual Plan was quite different from previous years. Heading into March, it looked like it was going to be fairly smooth sailing and it was far from it. There was some very detailed analysis and passionate debate.
“The Annual Plan we have landed on is a sound balance of responding to COVID-19, keeping our city’s economy and growth on track, and listening and responding to our community concerns.”
To demonstrate the number and scale of capital projects that are happening and planned in Hamilton, the Council has produced an interactive map for people to explore the work going on in the city and their neighbourhood. The map will be available for the public to use in the reception area of the Council offices at 260 Anglesea Street from Wednesday 12 August.