Amenity fund ‘half-baked’
The proposed regional amenities fund, where Porirua dollars would support facilities everywhere in the region but at home, has been labelled ‘‘half-baked’’ and ‘‘ taxation without representation’’ by northern ward councillor Tim Sheppard.
The Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, which has been dubbed a ‘‘fun tax’’, would require every home in the Wellington region to pay for certain attractions and events.
An initial fund of $2 million will grow $250,000 each year – to be capped at $3m – with Porirua ratepayers’ share being $144,000 for the first two years, increasing to $216,000 by 2017-18.
There is a focus on arts and culture, environmental attractions and events, with a panel of independent assessors to decide how and where the money is spent. Amenities like Te Papa, Wellington Zoo and Kapiti Island have been mooted as likely candidates.
Porirua City councillor Litea Ah Hoi has made her opposition to the fund well-known since it was first raised in 2009. She has found a staunch ally in Mr Sheppard, who launched a scathing broadside at a meeting of the council last Thursday.
He stressed he was not against regional collaboration but did not believe the fund had been researched and developed well enough.
‘‘It seems very half-baked, it’s not well-balanced and there does not seem to have been any costbenefits [looked at]. We welcome out- of- towners to places like Pataka but I see a real imbalance on where this fund will be spent, with this proposal sucking the money out of our district and heading to the southernmost extremity of the region.’’
Mr Sheppard said he took issue with the way the initiative has been put forward and felt Porirua residents would not have a connection with many of the attractions.
‘‘I think it has been undemocratic. Most households here do not have an affinity with the Wellington Orchestra, the School of Drama or Otari-wilton’s Bush – there is unlikely to be a single Porirua reserve on the list.
‘‘We would be pouring money into Zealandia, which is a financial disaster, and I don’t think we will have a say on where the investment goes. It’s taxation without representation.’’
Mayor Nick Leggett and deputy mayor Liz Kelly both conceded there were ‘‘concerns’’ about Porirua’s contribution, but it was important that the public make comment.
Mr Sheppard and Ms Ah Hoi said they were against the proposal even going out for discussion.
Residents can have their say on the amenities fund as part of PCC’S long term plan consultation, which opens today and closes May 3.