Who will pay for Arena screen?

Replacing Arena Manawatu's ageing big screen could cost $750,000, and Palmerston North ratepayers are being lined up to contribute a third of the cost.

Purchase of a new screen for use primarily at Arena is one of a handful of new items in a budget that would contribute to a 4.3 per cent rates increase next year.

Palmerston North City councillors are debating what to put in the draft Annual Plan before it is released to the public for consultation.

Arena Manawatu manager David Walsh told the Manawatu Standard the current 8-year-old big screen was getting past its use-by date and parts were hard to get.

"It's just getting old like a TV does. It doesn't do anything wrong, it shows a good picture, but parts are getting hard to get because they're becoming obsolete.

"The screen is from Italy so it's not as if you can go to the corner shop and buy parts."

Mr Walsh said planning for replacement was in its early stages, but he was excited by the prospect of new technology that could provide a crystal clear picture, and be portable.

The council is proposing ratepayers contribute $250,000 and that grants from other organisations make up the balance.

Chief executive Paddy Clifford said applications had already been made for $500,000, but had been unsuccessful so far.

His suggestion was to spread the rating impact of the full cost over three years, but still seek outside money.

Cr Grant Smith said he would not support the full cost falling on ratepayers.

"This is a classic case of trying to buy a new car before we are ready for it.

"At $750,000, it would not be a good use of ratepayers' money, and I'm a sportsperson.

"I think money is out there for this sort of project."

Cr Duncan McCann convinced councillors the project should be not just about Arena Manawatu, but about providing a mobile big screen that could be hired out and moved to events at other venues.

"It's not just an Arena toy."

Some councillors wanted to defer the project until money from other parties could be secured.

But deputy mayor Jim Jefferies said that approach would make it harder to attract other partners, as it would indicate a lack of commitment from the council.

Mayor Jono Naylor said any delay would carry the risk that there would be no big screen at all for some time.

"Whenever it breaks down, they have to call someone who has one similar to see if they can get spare parts," he said.

The prospect of covering the embankment seating at the Arena has been left out of the draft budget.

During a marathon 9am to 5pm meeting day yesterday, the committee of council debated 24 projects, took some out, put some in, and ended up barely influencing the proposed rates increase.

Changes made to the first version of the draft Annual Plan included:

Delaying spending of $139,000 to install parking meter technology to allow wave and pay, contactless payment.

Reducing the amount of $3.5 million in the budget for a regional bus terminal to $400,000 for a temporary one.

Reinstating $50,000 worth of small urban projects suggested to be dropped to release money to encourage place-making in Broadway Ave.

Deferring $894,000 set aside for traffic safety improvements in Walding St.

Adding $250,000 to support the first part of construction of a Fitzherbert Bridge to Linton pathway.

Deferring $761,000 for civic administration building refurbishments until it is known what earthquake strengthening is needed.

The corrected version of the draft will be presented to the full council on March 10 before going out for submissions from March 21 to April 22.

Manawatu Standard