Coastguard request puts council on spot

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014

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A $100,000 question hangs in the balance as Environment Southland considers submissions on its Annual Plan.

Submissions on the plan begin today and at the forefront of considerations is the Bluff Coastguard's six figure request for a one-off payment from Environment Southland's Marine Reserve Fee for its replacement vessel costs.

The Coastguard had aimed to raise more than $1 million for a new boat.

Of the 36 submissions to this year's plan, 12 dealt directly with that request and nine of those supported the provision.

However, Environment Southland may scramble to meet the demand with a shortfall in cashflow expected from the marine fund.

A report prepared for today's council meeting says the council needed to say no to some funding requests.

The question of funding the Coastguard's boat was put to the public in the Draft Annual Plan and feedback was sought on whether the grant should be paid by an increase to general rates.

Of the 12 submissions received on the matter, nine supported the grant but without a rise in general rates to bolster it. Three did not support the grant.

An alternative to paying the $100,000 requested by Coastguard could involve a combination of a cash grant plus an offer to use the Emergency Management Southland facility as a coastguard training and scenario exercise centre. This has been discussed, the report said.

Another option was to provide the fund through a surplus in South Port dividends.

Other submitters to be heard on the Annual Plan will be Emergency Management Southland, who requested $20,000 towards a report on landslide-induced tsunamis in Milford Sound, the Milford Sound Development Authority, who requested $55,000 contribution for as weather station at Anne Point, and OSPRI New Zealand, who requested a contribution to the TBfree pest management programme.

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