Knife put to games, energy, rugby

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 26/02/2013

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Street games, research into coping with energy price rises and a grant to the New Zealand Rugby Museum are among the casualties of the Palmerston North City Council's effort to keep rates down.

The committee of council last night agreed to consult the public on a draft Annual Plan that would need a 3.9 per cent rates rise.

Councillors proposed several extra projects for inclusion, but the only success was boosting the council's contribution to Christmas in The Square from $20,000 to $25,000, matching what it paid last year.

Cr Susan Baty summed up the mood. She said she was not prepared to add anything that would put the rates up further, and would not support projects with merit unless there were matching savings somewhere else.

The street games facilitator project, at $100,000, was proposed by Chris Teo-Sherrell.

It would involve appointing someone to train coaches in the community to provide more opportunities for active recreation at neighbourhood level and encourage more people to take part.

Cr Lew Findlay said the concept had been "phenomenal" overseas in getting people involved, reducing crime and truancy and improving educational achievement.

Mayor Jono Naylor said there could be other ways the council could support the idea, and Cr Ross Linklater said although it sounded good, he did not want to tack on $100,000 to the rates bill. The councillors voted 5-10 against the idea.

Cr Teo-Sherrell also wanted $100,000 invested in a report on how to insulate the city and council from energy price rises, and lost again.

The proposal to give the New Zealand Rugby Museum a $10,000 grant, conditional on the New Zealand Rugby Union providing a matching increase in its grant, was put by Cr Vaughan Dennison.

He said it was out of proportion that Te Manawa received just under $3 million, while the national resource that shared its space got nothing.

The mayor and Cr Adrian Broad supported the proposal, but it was vehemently resisted by other councillors.

The museum applied for a community grant, and was turned down by staff in the first councillor-free allocations announced in January.

Cr Bruce Wilson said it was "fiddling with the process" if the council opened the door for unsuccessful groups to have a second go at getting council money through the draft Annual Plan.

Cr Teo-Sherrell said it was "appalling" that councillors would even consider "absolutely undermining" the work of its staff.

The council will confirm the draft Annual Plan next week before the final version goes to print.

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- Manawatu Standard

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