World cup spend $56m

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Janie Smith

THE Auck­land City Coun­cil is look­ing to spend more than $56 mil­lion on the Rugby World Cup, al­most dou­ble what it had al­ready com­mit­ted to the event.

While mayor John Banks is vow­ing not to spend a sin­gle dol­lar on the inside of Eden Park, his coun­cil is now look­ing at spend­ing an ex­tra $24.8m on the event and in­fra­struc­ture.

The coun­cil’s arts, cul­ture and re­cre­ation com­mit­tee rec­om­mended on Wed­nes­day the coun­cil spend the ex­tra money.

It comes on top of the $32m al­ready com­mit­ted in the draft an­nual plan for in­fra­struc­ture, trans­port and pub­lic space up­grades.

The rec­om­men­da­tion prompted coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey to ask whether the com­mit­tee had “lost the plot”.

“It’s six weeks in the life of the city. There’s no legacy for the peo­ple of Auck­land be­yond the cup.

“What hap­pens if we get knocked out? What hap­pens to the $57m if we get turfed out on our ear? I’m re­ally not im­pressed at the mis­use of ratepay­ers’ money.”

The rec­om­mended op­tion costs $35.8m in to­tal but only $24.8m of that will re­quire new fund­ing.

It was the most ex­pen­sive of the three op­tions put be­fore the com­mit­tee, promis­ing a high ben­e­fit level.

It will also have the high­est im­pact on rates. But the re­port did not say what that would equate to.

But Mr Banks said the coun­cil would keep rates within the in­fla­tion rate by pri­ori­tis­ing spend­ing.

“What is im­por­tant will be done and what is not im­por­tant may not be. There’s plenty of money in Auck­land. It’s a mat­ter of qual­ity spend­ing.

“If we’re go­ing to host the big­gest in­ter­na­tional event in this coun­try’s his­tory, we’re go­ing to have to spend a few bob.”

The $35.8m would be spread over five years.

Coun­cil­lor Toni Mil­lar said the event it­self was part of the city’s legacy and con­di­tions on some ex­ter­nal fund­ing meant Eden Park would be opened to other codes.

“A lot of the changes be­ing made will help the res­i­dents. I be­lieve it is the way to go.”

But coun­cil­lor Glenda Fryer said all res­i­dents would be left with was a “colos­sus” of a sta­dium.

“It’s go­ing to help de­stroy the fab­ric of the com­mu­nity. Rates will go up and projects will be cut.

“It’s ab­so­lutely the wrong way to go. We’re sup­posed to be belt tight­en­ing and we’re not.”

Dr Casey and Ms Fryer voted against the mo­tion, ar­gu­ing the com­mit­tee should rec­om­mend cheaper op­tions.

“John Banks said we weren’t mak­ing a big deal of the world cup and Eden Park. It seems we’ve al­ready done our dash for fund­ing,” said Dr Casey.

Mr Banks says none of the ad­di­tional spend­ing rec­om­mended would be done un­til the coun­cil ap­proved a busi­ness plan.

“I’m ex­cited about the cup but I’m aware peo­ple are hurt­ing and strug­gling to pay the bills, in­clud­ing the rates.

“It’s not an easy time as the econ­omy con­tin­ues to dive. We’ve got to be care­ful.

“Ob­vi­ously if we’re go­ing to host a huge event we have to spend some money but we have to be care­ful about how we spend it.”

The com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion will go to the com­bined com­mit­tees in June.

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