Call to end grants lolly scramble

A regional councillor wants the council to scrap giving money to community groups and landowners, saying it is a lolly scramble that has to stop.

Horizons councillor Bob Walker said giving ratepayers' money away under the guise of community grants and environment grants was wrong at a time when people where struggling to put food on the table.

"Rates are high enough as it is and people are struggling to pay, so to give money away like that is wrong."

Mr Walker said ratepayers had no control over where their money went through the grants and he wanted to see more financial restraint in council.

"The amount of money in environmental grants runs into hundreds of thousands each year which is money that could be spent elsewhere and keep rates down."

He said an example was last year's fencing grants for Tararua farmers that blew the budget from $45,000 to $350,000 when more farmers than expected applied.

"It's time we stopped this lolly scramble, after all who wouldn't ask for money to go about their business if it was being handed out for free?"

Mr Walker said Horizons was about to announce $20,215 would be given to regional community groups.

He said it was a fraction of the $133,494 that had been asked for and suggestions were already being made for the $20,000 set aside for community grants to be increased to cater for the higher demand.

He said the best way to ensure budgets were not blown was to withdraw completely from community funding.

Mr Walker said ratepayers should have input into where their money went and should not have to fund projects that may not be in their district.

Manawatu Standard