Ratepay­ers face cost Sports cen­tre’s ex­tra $5m could go on rates

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Wanaka’s $16 mil­lion sports cen­tre could have a bud­get short­fall of about $5m if a law change kicks in, leav­ing ratepay­ers to pick up the un­ex­pected deficit. The sports cen­tre, first pro­posed in 2008, pro­vided newly elected Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil mem­bers with plenty to get their heads around in their first meet­ing. The site of the sports cen­tre, which will in­clude a swim­ming pool, in­door sports halls, foot­ball fields and ar­ti­fi­cial turf courts and pos­si­bly club rooms, will be within the North Three Parks de­vel­op­ment. A rec­om­men­da­tion was passed au­tho­ris­ing the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Adam Fee­ley to push ahead on ne­go­ti­a­tions with Wil­lowridge de­vel­oper Al­lan Dip­pie to se­cure land ac­cess and ti­tle, and all other terms needed to achieve a June 2016 com­ple­tion

date for the sports cen­tre. There was hot de­bate around the coun­cil ta­ble on many as­pects of ne­go­ti­a­tion. Two ex-coun­cil­lors, Aaron Heath and Jude Batt­son, through the pub­lic fo­rum sec­tion of the meet­ing, also had plenty to say on the mat­ter. Mr Heath said other sites needed to be con­sid­ered be­fore the North Three Parks site was locked in. Mrs Batt­son said the sports cen­tre was an es­sen­tial ad­di­tion to Wanaka’s fu­ture and the North Three Parks site would be a mas­sive area of fu­ture de­vel­op­ment. ‘‘The coun­cil shouldn’t get bogged down by the price or fi­nances, or dumb down the de­sign,’’ she said. How­ever, the big­gest sur­prise came cour­tesy of the coun­cil’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Stewart Burns, who re­vealed the pos­si­ble $5m short­fall. The cause was a pos­si­ble amend­ment by the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Au­thor­ity, which sets the bound­aries for dis­trict and city coun­cils, which would mean de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions could not be used to fund projects such as the sports com­plex. De­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions are funds paid by large-scale de­vel­op­ers to con­trib­ute to coun­cil in­fra­struc­ture needed to make de­vel­op­ments hab­it­able – wa­ter sup­ply and sewerage es­pe­cially. ‘‘De­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions could be amended un­der the LGA act, the most per­ti­nent of those is that the scope of de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions could be nar­rowed, and would not be an op­tion for fund­ing this project.’’ Cur­rent fund­ing op­tions in­clude ap­ply­ing to com­mu­nity grant agen­cies for about 15 per cent of the over­all bud­get. Mr Burns said that if us­ing de­vel­op­ment con­tri­bu­tions was out, it was prob­a­ble that us­ing loaned money, and dis­tribut­ing the cost of that loan among fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of ratepay­ers might be the most vi­able op­tion to cover the short­fall.

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