Council swamped by support for centre

Matamata-Piako District Council has been flooded with submissions on the proposed Te Aroha Events Centre, a majority in favour of ratepayers contributing $2 million towards the project.

The public consultation process conducted by the council attracted almost 1200 submissions, with more than 1000 supporting the council contribution.

A staff report said this level of response is particularly high when compared to council's previous consultations.

A charitable trust wants to build a multipurpose indoor facility at Boyd Park.

The trust has raised just under $1m, with estimates tabled in a previous council staff report suggesting total costs will be between $4.5m and $5m.

A council hearing on the local authority's commitment or otherwise to the project is being held today in Te Aroha, with 29 people or groups wishing to be heard.

Morrinsville and Te Aroha community boards previously resolved to "receive the information" on the project.

The staff report, due to be tabled at this morning's council meeting, said salient points raised in the submissions were the great asset/benefits the events centre would bring; rates increases/rates burden; and suggestions of user pays/targeted rates.

Council should consider whether the events centre will be a district-wide facility or a facility for Te Aroha ward residents, said the report.

"If it is to be a district-wide facility, council should consider whether it is equitable to be charging solely Te Aroha ratepayers for the facility. This is particularly so given that Te Aroha ratepayers have contributed to facilities in Morrinsville and Matamata in the past."

Another option discussed in the report is differential rates based on distance from the events centre.

Some submitters questioned why non-ratepayers should have a say on the matter. Under the Local Government Act, council is obliged to accept the submissions from non-ratepayers and consider them with an open mind. "What weight is to non-residential/non-ratepayer submissions is a policy judgement for council to make," said the report.

A range of sports groups who have expressed an interest in using Te Aroha Events Centre. The staff report said council will need to identify all the practicable options - particularly with respect to funding options, and the impact of this decision on current and future ratepayers. Construction of the facility "would support community wellbeing by contributing to the health and wellbeing of people".

Waikato Times