Plans to cut funds to helicopter trust
Plans to cut ratepayer funding to the Westpac rescue helicopter don’t sit right with Aucklanders, the service says.
The Auckland Council’s Regional Amenities Funding Board has proposed cutting the funding it provides the service by a quarter.
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust gets $1.2 million per year.
Trust chairman Murray Bolton says this will force the service to rely more heavily on donations from the public and helicopters may have to run for fewer hours and with reduced capabilities if the shortfall can’t be met.
Plans to buy a replacement helicopter in 2015 may also have to be canned, Mr Bolton says.
The trust is the only one of 10 ratepayer-funded regional amenities in line for a funding cut.
If the proposal is accepted the trust will have had its ratepayer contribution reduced by $600,000 since 2010.
‘‘We are in no way trying to target other amenities that receive funding but we are seeking a fair and equitable result,’’ he says.
At the end of last year Phoenix Research surveyed more than 1000 Aucklanders online to get their thoughts on the helicopter service.
The research found 86 per cent of respondents thought the Westpac rescue helicopter benefited most Aucklanders.
Results for the other nine regional amenities, including the Auckland Theatre Company, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the National Maritime Museum, were between 10.4 per cent and 68.5 per cent.
The survey also asked respondents how they would allocate $100 across the regional amenities.
The rescue helicopter was allocated an average of $22.50 compared with between $4.10 and $13.80 for the other nine regional amenities.
‘‘This compares to our actual allocation of $6.50 out of every $100 of ratepayer funding, under the Regional Amenities Funding Board’s proposal,’’ Mr Bolton says.
‘‘What they are proposing is simply not enough to meet our needs.’’
Mr Bolton hopes the support shown in the survey will be reflected in submissions to the Regional Amenities Funding Board. Submissions can be made until February 8 at rescuehelicopter.org.nz.