Amenity fund ‘half-baked’

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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