Council declines funding increase

Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014

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The body charged with promoting the Timaru District has been denied its request for extra ratepayer funding.

The matter will still go out for public consultation, but at the draft annual plan meeting yesterday, Timaru District councillors voted 5-3 in favour of keeping Aoraki Development Business and Tourism's (ADBT) funding at $690,500 for 2014-15, the same rate as the 2013-14 financial year.

ADBT had requested council to increase its funding to $704,310 in 2014-15, $718,400 the following year and $732,770 in the 2016-2017 financial year.

Councillors Tracey Tierney and Peter Burt argued increasing the funding by 2 per cent, at least for next year, was reasonable.

"We need to give them the opportunity to do their work. We shouldn't pull the rug from under them," Mr Burt said.

Ms Tierney said the ADBT had been dealing with increasingly tight margins as its council funding had stayed at the same annual rate for the past three years.

"I've got some sympathy for the board's situation," she said.

Cr Antony Brien suggested ADBT's funding should be increased, but not by as much as it requested.

"There needs to be some tempering . . . but a small increase would nonetheless be a gesture of goodwill," he said.

Cr Richard Lyon said ADBT received "already enough goodwill", while Cr David Jack suggested the organisation should seek new income streams.

Mr Jack's motion that council funding be kept at $690,500 for next year was supported by Crs Lyon, Kerry Stevens, Steve Wills and Mayor Damon Odey.

Crs Brien, Burt and Tierney voted against it. Cr Steve Earnshaw was absent yesterday due to illness.

Mr Odey said there were worthy arguments "both for and against" increasing ADBT's funding.

However, he said the council would review its economic development policies when it discussed its long-term plan next year.

"There's going to be quite a bit of change coming up. We don't want to pre-empt any of the discussion just yet."

ADBT was formed in July 2010 from the merger of the Aoraki Development Trust and Central South Island Tourism. It is tasked with promoting the region, and also holds seminars and undertakes research.

ADBT had projected it would generate $526,150 of its own income next year, while the cost of human resources was budgeted to increase from $822,000 to $861,760 in the coming year.

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- The Timaru Herald

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