Plans to cut funds to heli­copter trust

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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