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Let's leave the muni pools until there's a better idea

Hamilton’s Municipal Pools on Victoria Street celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2012 – the year council closed them. Now council is applying to itself for a resource consent to demolish the pools, despite opposition led by Sink or Swim, a group of tireless volunteers. Pools are one of those feel-good community assets that attract emotional arguments, such as teaching kids to avoid drowning. I get that. But we still need to balance economic realities. Ratepayers end up subsidising user...

November 26, 2018

Everything including the kitchen sink under this rates plan

Most people don’t like paying rates. I do – so long as I think I am getting good value for money. I love that portion of my rates going to Hamilton Gardens, the river walkways, and libraries. I’m proud to show visitors around the lake and enjoy evenings out at our live theatres. But nobody wants to pay rates twice. Yet this is what happens with SUIPs, a nasty little acronym that council recently discovered. It stands for Separately Used or Inhabited Part of a rating unit, which is rather m...

November 12, 2018

Developer fees put ratepayers at risk

A Christchurch woman recently made national headlines with a story about the granny flat she got built for her deaf brother. A council planner told her the council fees would be $1,500, but it ended up over $23,000 – for a small 1-bedroom unit on her own land. $1,500 seems reasonable for such a simple job.  The planner can do a copy-paste report in an hour, and we all know the council will have another hour for “administration” to email it. The granny flat is a prefabricated standard ...

October 22, 2018

Hamilton planning has got out of hand

OPINION: Which of these houses is better ... according to Hamilton City Council planning rules? One is a home I designed, with a nice front lawn and garage out of sight at the back of the house. It is warm and inviting. The other is the Outcasts gang headquarters in Norton Road, with a gate and intimidating fence, although the razor wire was removed a few years ago. Congratulations to the Outcasts! Why? Because their front door faces the street. My one's door faces th...

October 15, 2018

Council Spends $6.49m for "River Dream" Buildings valued at $4.3m

On the eve of a national conference for ratepayer groups gathering to address serious concerns over "out of control" spending by councils', Hamilton Residents & Ratepayers Association President Mischele Rhodes is assessing options, which include approaching  the Serious Fraud Office to investigate why it is that the Hamilton City Council would consider paying up to 56% more than independent market valuations for the River Dream properties? She refers to the NZ Herald article 4 October 2018,...

October 12, 2018

Mixed-use development now all the rage

OPINION: Last week's column was about the history of council planning. It affects us every day, having had a big impact on our house designs, sections, roads and where we work. Some people reading this are about to embark on the Monday morning commute across Hamilton's bridges and wonder why their CBD office or Te Rapa factory couldn't have been on the same side of the river as Rototuna. The zone system that planners dictated is to blame. A new buzzword - mixed-use development - ...

October 8, 2018

Andrew Bydder: Planners eroding public choice

OPINION: The late great legendary architect Sir Ian Athfield famously said in 1987: "Planners and local authorities are stupid. Absolutely stupid! They have these rules and they're not worth a tin of s---. They're rules for rules' sake. They don't have any validity. They're changed all the time. So the clever and competent in the architectural profession are the ones that know the rules instead of being clever and competent architectural designers." (quote lifted from Te Ara – the Encyclopaedi...

October 1, 2018

Andrew Bydder: Housing crisis is all about land and how councils regulate it

OPINION: Which is worth more: a million-dollar section with a $100,000 house or just a million-dollar section? The answer is the million-dollar section and the reason is capitalisation.  Anyone buying the section wants to put a big flash house on it, not a small, simple one.  A $100,000 house isn't going to cut it, so the buyer will have to spend $10,000 demolishing it before building their dream home. The section was undercapitalised. Back when I was at university, land was cheap...

September 24, 2018

District Plan's pointless rules

OPINION  Dear Richard Briggs, This is a formal and public complaint about a Hamilton City Council employee, namely the chief executive. The Local Government Act 2002 Section 42 Part 2 (c) and (d) means you are responsible for the performance of all other employees. So even though you had nothing to do with the following, you get the complaint because you get the big bucks. Don't take this complaint personally. You have actually taken some good steps recently with a commitment to save $10 m...

September 17, 2018

DHB staff need to be accountable

OPINION: Yet another public-sector cost blowout has hit the news. This time it's the Waikato District Health Board and its alterations to the old Farmers building on the corner of Anglesea and Collingwood streets. No stranger to problems with failed computer systems, dodgy CEOs and the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre being declared unfit for purpose, the DHB has already seen the building's budget double from $7.7 million to $14.7m in July 2017. Now, faced with another huge cost increase...

September 10, 2018

Councils generally pretty powerless

OPINION: Most Kiwis find the structure of the United States government confusing. As well as a president, they have two parliaments, together known as Congress but divided into the Senate and the House of Representatives. Also, the 50 individual states (with some exceptions) each have two more parliaments and a governor. The states have regional governments in the form of counties. There is a federal court system that covers all the states, and another court system within each state. This...

September 6, 2018

Where does the money come from?

OPINION: Hamilton City Council's 142-page 10-Year Plan is available on the council's website. It is very nicely presented and well written in accessible language with clear charts. Staff have done a good job on this and I thank them. It should be compulsory reading for all citizens, but really, who has the time? We rely on elected councillors to represent our interests so we don't have to worry how the city's soon-to-be $800 million debt can be repaid. But there are a couple of good reasons...

August 27, 2018

Council's Business Cycle

One principle of business cycle economic theory is that governments can take a longer term view than the free market, and can act in an opposite way to the business cycle. When the economy is in recession, government (and councils) should increase spending and hire more people with job creation schemes. Then when the private economy is expanding, the government (and councils) can cut back without causing hardship. The cutbacks allow revenues to build up as a buffer against the next downturn. Ham...

August 26, 2018

Hamilton City Council Under Review

The Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association Incorporated is a group of people who want the best for our city. Hamilton is a great place to live and work, and we want it to get better. None of us have the time to keep up with everything the council does, but as a group, we can share the tasks and keep each other informed. We are worried about council spending. We are not anti-growth. We are not anti-debt (if it is a good investment). We simply want value for money. The rates rises are hurti...

August 26, 2018

Claudeland's was never a good idea

The building cost $68.5 million and opened in 2011.  According to the council-commissioned 2009 business case, it was supposed to host 316 events in its first year and generate a $1.1 million surplus. It sounded like a great investment. But according to a $30,000 review initiated by Julie Hardaker when she was elected, those figures were not accurate. To quote a news article of the time, “Hamilton City Council staff told the original author of the business case, Campbell Consulting, to in...

August 20, 2018

Bydder: Business principles at work

The Dilbert Principle Based on a cartoon about office workers by Scott Adams, this rule states that companies tend to systematically promote their least competent employees to management (generally middle management) to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing. The Peter PrincipleOften misquoted as the Dilbert Principle, it is subtly different. Laurence Peter wrote an entire book about how people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence. In other words, an employee ...

August 13, 2018

Adding insult to injury

The plight of Pokeno homeowners is appalling. Four families with their life-savings tied up in their houses are being held to ransom by Waikato District Council. Resembling Tauranga’s Bella Vista debacle where code compliance certificates were issued without proper inspections, the council claims that the finished and fully certified houses suddenly need retrospective resource consents – and that the residents should pay for the council’s mistake.One of the group dared to make a complaint....

August 6, 2018

Opinion: In good times, governments should stop spending

OPINION: In 1929, the stock market crash signalled the start of the Great Depression in the United States. The economic collapse spread to other countries, which led to the saying, "When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold." New Zealand was hit hard. The shock of poverty and unemployment drove voters to the Labour Party, which won its first election in 1935. The new government immediately began welfare spending in a manner now called Keynesian economics after its internat...

July 30, 2018

Toilet Tax

Auckland Council is proposing a toilet tax. Its purpose is to raise a billion dollars over the next twenty years to pay for a new sewer line needed now. After decades of underfunding infrastructure while building stadiums and other pet projects, the council can’t afford the essentials. There are many concerns about the proposed tax, one of which is that people may start peeing in the shower. Another is the lack of fairness. It is not a user-pays approach! One person in a two-toilet house does ...

July 23, 2018

Where's Hamilton headed and do we want to go there?

OPINION: Way back when the ancient Greeks first tried democracy in the city of Athens, only landowners were allowed to vote. If the city were threatened by an army, epidemic, or drought, merchants and workers could pack up and leave without losing anything. Landowners were more likely to stay and fight or struggle through the troubled times. Their fates were bound with the city and it was hoped that they would act with the city's best interest at heart. That hope didn't last long. Ath...

July 16, 2018 Posts 1-20 of 20 | Page
 

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