World cup spend $56m
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.