Submission hearing concludes

Last updated 05:00 11/05/2012

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Nearly 200 people made submissions to the Invercargill City Council's draft 2012 long-term plan, which explains the council's priorities for the next 10 years.

The two-day hearing concluded yesterday, with some of the submitters speaking to their written submissions. Below are some of the issues addressed by the public.

The city council is proposing annual rates increases in the next 10 years of 4.47 per cent, 6.43 per cent, 2.65 per cent, 4.69 per cent, 1.63 per cent, 2.16 per cent, 2.31 per cent, 4.12 per cent, 5.19 per cent and 2 per cent. Alan Swallow said there were no reasons for the rates increases. "We should have a nil increase." Reductions in council expenditure had not been robust or thorough enough, he argued.

Mr Swallow, who has been paying rates in Invercargill for 50 years, encouraged the council to borrow money for those projects which would benefit residents for generations to come, instead of putting all the cost on current ratepayers. "You have got a guaranteed income and borrowing is spreading the costs inter-generationally."

The Invercargill Youth Council submission says it wants major redevelopment projects to wait until the government report on earthquake risks and strengthening is released. Its priority is for wi-fi (wireless internet) coverage in streets in central Invercargill including Tay, Dee, Kelvin, Esk and Don streets. "This will increase usage of this area," the youth council submission says.

Paddy Lewis urged city councillors not to put $200,000 of maintenance funding towards Rugby Park Stadium every year, which is one of the options the council is considering in its long-term plan. Mr Lewis argued that the stadium owners, the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust, had not exhausted all other funding options, including charging Rugby Southland rental. He also said there was no schedule of planned maintenance to justify the $200,000 figure and granting the funding would set a dangerous precedent. "What is to stop hockey, softball, soccer or cricket from getting in a similar situation because they will know they will come to council with their hand out?" The Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust is more than $1million in debt. The trust submission to the council, prepared by chairman Ian Tulloch, says its debt repayments are challenging but achievable if Rugby Southland retains a first division side and the trust can obtain funding assistance of $200,000 a year to ensure Rugby Park can be maintained and kept available as a community facility.

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Boyd Wilson, of Bonisch Consultants, which is involved in several large-scale residential developments in Invercargill, said the imposition of a development fee, of about $5800 for each new house built in the city, could jeopardise the developments. The residential developments would contribute tens of millions of dollars to Invercargill in years to come, he said.

The council's draft long-term plan proposes funding of $100,000 for 2012-13 and $140,000 a year for the following nine years be put toward the South Alive south Invercargill rejuvenation project. However, South Alive members have asked the city council to double its funding to $200,000 in the first year, so all the projects being looked at can be developed. South Alive member Robyn Hickman said: "I think $200,000 from the council in the first year would give us leverage to go to other groups for funding, such as the Community Trust of Southland."

- The Southland Times

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