Apply for funding, coastguard told

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2013

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Supporting coastal emergency groups such as the coastguard via marine fees charged to visiting cruise ships is among Environment Southland's options for how it spends the cruise ship income.

The council has collected nearly $12 million since 2001 from cruise ships entering Southland waters but just $5000 of it has gone to the Bluff Coastguard.

The coastguard is currently fundraising for a larger, faster and safer boat than the present one, but it will cost about $1.2m.

Environment Southland policy and planning manager Ken Swinney said funds generated from the marine fee had to be used for coastal marine activities, but could only be paid out in response to applications.

The regional council had responded to a $5000 request from the Bluff Coastguard last year for operational costs and training of volunteers. There had been no request for any money for a new boat, he said.

The millions raised by the marine fee were public money and every dollar dispensed other than to cover core council business had to be applied for and accounted for.

The Riverton Coastguard had applied for funding and had received $5000 each year for the past eight or nine years from the fund, Mr Swinney said.

The coastguard did not fall under Environment Southland core business, he said. "The council encouraged and offered the Bluff Coastguard an opportunity to apply for funding through the marine fee two or three years ago but never saw them on the radar."

However, Bluff Coastguard president Andy Johnson said Environment Southland had not coming knocking on the coastguard's doors saying "hey, we have this fund here, why don't you ask for some money".

"They were not forthcoming like that. We have had to ask through their protocols."

Mr Johnson said he was grateful for the funding Environment Southland had given. There would now be a more concerted effort by the organisation to get further funding from the council.

"The relationship is being developed and we are confident the level of annual funding from Environment Southland will increase," he said.

Next year they would ask Environment Southland for a six-figure sum, Mr Johnson said.

In the financial year ended June 30 there was a surplus of $2.5m in the Marine Fee Reserve.

This money would be used to reduce the impact on ratepayers if cruise ships stopped coming to Southland because of weather, global events or markets, Mr Swinney said.

In 2011-12, coastal management expenditure was $1.45m. If that had to be taken from the general rate, it would have increased that rate by about 26 per cent.

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Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the council needed to follow the processes and procedures it had in place to be fair to all organisations applying for access to the marine-fee fund.

If the Bluff Coastguard wanted money from the council it had to make a submission. It was not an onerous procedure, Ms Timms said.

MARINE FEE DOLLAR DETAILS

The Environment Southland Marine Fee

The marine fee is spent on council business and legal responsibilities within the coastal marine area and coastal environment that would normally be paid for by rates.

The marine fee first came due in the 2001-02 cruise season and generated about $260,000 (from 23 visits) for that season.

The 2011-12 cruise season generated $1.67 million and the 2012-13 season generated $1.98m.

Since it was introduced, the marine fee has generated nearly $12m.

Source: Environment Southland 

STRONG SUPPPORT FOR NEW COASTGUARD BOAT

Strong community support has helped raise money for a new Bluff Coastguard boat.

Bluff Coastguard president Andy Johnson said $46,650 had been deposited this week, the first week of The Southland Times Mayday campaign.

The new coastguard boat would be bigger, faster and safer than the existing model, but comes with a $1.2 million price tag.

The coastguard has already raised nearly $600,000, including large donations from a range of organisations and people such as the EP Wilding Estate, which donated $50,000, but there is still a long way to go, he said.

Bluff Coastguard fundraising campaign committee spokesman Cam McCulloch said the coastguard was a registered charity and anyone making a donation was entitled to a tax rebate. Companies could also claim deductions.

THIS WEEK'S DONATIONS B and P C Millar, L J Spriggs, R Beale, A and R Hill MG, Wylie, Independent Fish, Rodgers family, G and J Appleby, R and M Baillie, TM Pryde, J Hall and A Burns, CT Wheeler, P Abbott, KA Blakemore, CL Watson, K and L Wilson, J Day, LS King, GJ and TM Van Veldhuisen, C Heyrick, EP Wilding Estate. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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