Council gives $5.2m for community projects
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
Christchurch City councillors have voted to make an extra $5.2 million available for one-off community projects over the next two years.
The money will come from the capital endowment fund, which was set up by the council in 2001 using the $75m it received from the proceeds when Orion sold its North Island gas network.
Resolutions passed by the council at the time mean the council cannot dip into the fund's capital without the approval of 80 per cent of the council, but it can spend income from the fund.
This year's earnings from the fund, which now stands at just over $100m, are forecast to be $4.5m, of which $2.8m is earmarked to be used to inflation-protect the fund.
The remainder is available for the council to allocate to economic development and civic or community projects, but nearly all of it has been committed to projects.
Council staff were asked by councillors in June to investigate whether more money could be made available from the fund for one-off recovery or transitional projects.
The staff suggested the council consider suspending the inflation-proofing of the fund for two years - a move that would make an additional $5.2m available.
Councillors today voted nine to two to do that.
Mayor Bob Parker argued in favour of dipping into the fund because of the high level of need within the community.
"Frankly, I would also be happy to consider using some of the capital from the fund,'' he said.
Cr Barry Corbett, who was on the council when the fund was established, said it had been set up to ensure that when "rainy days'' hit the council still had money to fund community projects.
"This is the rainy day that we set up this fund for,'' he said.
Cr Sally Buck also spoke in favour of dipping into the fund.
"This is not business as usual. This is business as unusual now,'' she said.
"We need to take this and use some of it for projects that will not get funded otherwise. We can use this money to do things for the community that they need.''
Cr Jamie Gough said he was worried that if the council dipped into the fund now it would short-change residents in the future.
Cr Yani Johanson said he was initially against drawing on the fund but had been swayed by the arguments of his colleagues.
"I'm happy to change my mind because I think ... it is important that we look at spending some of this money in a way that can enhance the wellbeing of our community, especially when they are going through such a tough time,'' he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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