Ideas abound for Auckland Council's unused $3 million
An expired $3 million worth of funding, originally earmarked to build a controversial sailing facility on Takapuna Beach, has sat unused in Auckland Council's budget since 2012.
A quick survey of Auckland's North Shore residents offered a number of alternative council uses for the $3 million.
"They could probably better spend it on preserving the green environments around this area which are fast going. Just offering something that the whole public can use that's not something so exclusive as yachting," Orewa resident Chris Sutton says.
"From a very personal point of view, I've got children and my children are very interested in science, which is probably unusual in New Zealand, but I would love for the council to spend more money on initiatives that promote science or engineering or technology to kids," Devonport resident Bettina Sinclair says.
* Bid to return Takapuna Beach campground to original lease overturned at fiery meeting
* Takapuna campground victory after Yachting NZ withdraws application
* Yachting New Zealand renews interest in Takapuna beach reserve for sailing facility
* Mixed emotions for Takapuna Beach Holiday Park supporters
"I'm a sailor and I think making provision for a high performance sailing facility down there at Takapuna Beach is worthwhile and something that should be strongly supported by all the residents, especially those on the Shore." Stuart Kendon of Albany says, adding even if it were $12 million it would still be well spent on a facility everyone could enjoy.
The unused $3 million is sitting on the council's books because, in 2010, the old North Shore City Council assigned it to the Harbour Access Trust, a group of private parties interested in delivering a Yachting New Zealand (YNZ) sailing facility.
However, in the 2010 "Relationship Agreement" between council and the trust it states the $3 million depends on a list of conditions that "must be completed or performed to council's satisfaction in all respects within two years of the signing of agreement".
Intense community objection to a Yachting New Zealand sailing facility on the Takapuna Beach Reserve, over the past six years, has meant these conditions have not been met - which would have made the funding void in 2012.
Auckland Council general manager of parks, sports and recreation Mace Ward says the first step of the agreement, confirming a site for the sailing facility, has held up any use of the $3 million.
"The council has been working with the Harbour Access Trust and YNZ to determine a suitable site for the facility development. At this stage, a suitable site is still to be confirmed."
The status of Auckland Council's $3 million has been brought to a head by councillor for the North Shore Ward, Chris Darby, who has called a motion to receive a report on the $3 million at the September 22 finance committee meeting.
"The problem here is that the community doesn't have confidence in the local board, or for that matter council, because there are still things in the back cupboard that are coming out that are showing this up to be far from transparent," Darby says.
"How has not been brought to the attention of councillors when they make their decisions on budget review, in 2012 and 2015, and every annual plan year since the conditions were supposed to be met but were not," Darby says.
However, all that has been provided is a brief status update memo from Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton stating:
"The $3 million allocated to it remains on the balance sheet as a specifically identified part of ratepayers' equity. Should an alternative location be identified and agreed, then the project will be brought back to the appropriate committee of council for political endorsement."
Neither Mace Ward or Dean Kimpton provided any detail whether the 2010 Relationship Agreement committing the council to $3 million of funds was still valid.