Heritage rate hits Gore snag

22:16, Feb 22 2013

A Southland local government committee could look at restructuring if a proposal to increase rates is knocked back by the Gore District Council.

The Southland Regional Heritage Committee, a joint committee of the Invercargill City, Southland District and Gore District councils, wants to increase regional heritage rates to help cover the cost of the $20 million Southland Museum and Art Gallery upgrade.

The proposal to increase regional heritage rates by more than $12 a year per property was presented at the Gore District Council meeting this week.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said that after requesting more information last year, the council had again asked for clarification on how it would benefit the region.

While the council wanted to be part of a regional approach, the benefits for the whole area needed to be clear. "Gore is our priority first and foremost. Gore is exceptional and it's been recognised internationally," he said.

At the meeting, Gore councillor Bret Highsted said Gore ratepayers needed to be able to see the regional benefit.

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Southland Museum and Art Gallery Trust board chairman Darren Ludlow said it was about supporting Gore facilities rather than taking from them.

"We're the hub and we've got to support what happens in Gore."

The funding would be ongoing and Gore District would start receiving a portion of the funding straight away, Mr Ludlow said.

If the council refused to support the upgrade, the committee would reassess and look at restructuring.

terri.russell@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times