OPINION: 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, "Council pays $6.5m for River Dream", regarding Hamilton City Council's recent purchase of land and buildings from 242-266 Victoria Street in anticipation of an extensive River plan. Paying so far "above the odds" appears to go against the advice of their own CEO RIchard Briggs.
To pay up to 56% over their own market value, amounts to over $2m of additional spending at a time when many people in this city struggle to make ends meet. To also do this at a time when the Council has recently approved a massive 9.7% rates increase this year, and 3.8% for the next eight years, makes this decision hard to fathom. All Councils should seek to get the best possible rate when purchasing properties with ratepayers funds. This was also a deal that was substantially submitted against at the recent consultation on the Ten Year Plan. Hamilton City Council has a history of making poor investment decisions that result in financial loss on property. Hamilton Residents & Ratepayers Association Inc. asks the questions; who made the final decision to purchase these properties and where is the accountability?