ADBT seeks more funding

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014

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The body charged with promoting the Timaru district is seeking a 2 per cent increase in its ratepayer funding for each of the next three years.

Aoraki Development Business and Tourism (ADBT) is forecasting a $92,850 loss for the coming financial year and yesterday made a case to the Timaru District Council to have its funding increased in the next budget from $690,500 to $704,310, then $718,400 the following year and $732,770 in the 2016/2017 financial year.

An additional $30,000 had also been sought in the coming financial year for the Gigatown campaign, in which towns compete to be the first to get ultrafast broadband.

ADBT had originally sought $30,000 for a campaign to attract Christchurch people to the area following the earthquakes, and it asked instead to use this money for the Gigatown campaign.

Cr Kerry Stevens had reservations.

"The money was originally to target Christchurch businesses to move to Timaru. That morphed into the tell-a-friend campaign and now it has become Gigatown. That is a slippery slope to me."

Committee chairwoman Tracy Tierney and mayor Damon Odey both disagreed, saying ADBT was just seizing opportunities.

Cr Steve Earnshaw suggested a business case would be needed before the increase in funding was considered at the annual plan and budget meetings.

Mr Stevens called for funding to be shown as split between tourism and economic development.

However Mrs Tierney felt the constraints on ADBT were becoming onerous when compared with those of the holding company, Timaru District Holdings Ltd.

"It is important to remember the [ADBT] board has been given the role to govern," she said.

ADBT chief executive Wendy Smith said she had "complete faith in our board; it is a shame some councillors don't".

An ADBT report to the council said the operating loss of $92,850 was to allow current services to be maintained and continue to invest in online technologies.

"This work includes updating the South Canterbury website (work in progress) ensuring most view pages are mobile compatible, providing free wi-fi in Timaru and Geraldine and serving our 200-plus business partners with appropriate technological support.

"Human resource expenses increase is mainly due to the increased resource in the online technology area."

Because of the economic boom it was costing more to employ staff, Mrs Smith said.

The cost of human resources was budgeted to increase from $822,000 to $861,760 in the coming year. The annual report shows the highest-paid person at ADBT went from being in the $180,000 to $189,999 band in 2012, to the $190,000 to $199,000 band in 2013.

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For the coming year the organisation projects its income to be $1,323,310, of which $704,310 would come from the council and $526,150 be generated by ADBT itself.

- The Timaru Herald

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