Rural Waimate rejects loan

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 08/05/2012

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Waimate's rural community has said no to a proposed $2.5 million loan for a new community centre.

And it is calling for a review of the council's new funding policy.

It was unanimous at the St Andrews hall last night when all those present voted against a grant to get construction of the new complex started.

About 50 attended and not one hand was raised in favour.

St Andrews Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Tom O'Connor called the meeting to discuss the Waimate District Council's draft long term plan. Submissions close on Friday.

Funding for the centre still has to be confirmed, with the money to be sourced by the Community Sport and Leisure Trust and Waimate ratepayers. Ratepayers will probably foot $4 million of the bill, with a contribution of $2.5m in 2014-15 and $1.5m in 2015-16 for a library at the community centre.

The council intends to start rating to pay for the construction on July 1, which would provide for a gradual increase in rates to finance a loan.

Under the proposed funding policy the new district-wide rate will increase by $22.66 in the 2012-13 year and rise to $45.33 in 2013-14. From then it will be $68 a year until the 20-year loan is paid off.

A general rate will be applied to every dwelling in the rural area rather than every property under the new funding policy.

It means properties with more than one dwelling will pay a civic amenities rate for each house.

The rate contributes to the library, cemeteries, parks, pools, toilets and rubbish collection.

Mayor John Coles addressed the crowd, giving three main reasons for rate increases – insurance, roading and depreciation.

He said drinking water was also a contentious issue.

It was suggested Waimate township pay for the new community centre. "I think it's something for the wider community," Mr Coles responded.

Waimate councillor Sharyn Cain said the current stadium was in disrepair and would cost a considerable amount to bring up to standard.

The funding policy raised some debate when it was suggested that basing rates on property values gave no reflection of services given.

"There is no fair way to do rates," Mr Alden responded.

Mr O'Connor concluded: "This group don't want to pick up the stadium rate; the reality is that we can't afford it."

A public meeting is set for tonight in Knox Church Hall at 7.30pm.

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- The Timaru Herald

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