With our councils now revealing their proposed 3-Year Plans for consultation, the serious lobbying has begun.

The bottomline is that no one wants to pay 20%+ rate hikes, but no one wants their favourite programme cut either.

The first two potential victims to cross my desk are Hawke’s Bay Tourism and Te Mata Park. Obviously two very high profile operations, with their annual support threatened by funding cuts proposed by the HB Regional Council.

HBRC’s preferred option is to totally defund HB Tourism over two years (presently $1.52m per year). HB Tourism’s media release headlines this alarm: “Proposed Tourism Funding Cuts Will Have Catastrophic Effect”.

“Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s preferred option is not an option at all. It is simply not viable. It would see a closure of Hawke’s Bay Tourism on July 1, and along with it the end of a thriving visitor economy, one of the most important economic drivers for Hawke’s Bay,” says HB Tourism Chair George Hickton. 

Here is HBT’s full release arguing the organisation’s case.

Te Mata Park Trust’s media release headlines: “Funding loss could limit public access to Te Mata Park”. HBRC proposes cutting its $120,000 annual maintenance funding to the park.

Trust Chair Mike Devonshire said, “We’ve been blindsided by the HBRC’s preferred option to pull funding for Te Mata Park – the jewel in the region’s crown. There’s no way we can lose $120,000 in funding. We already need to try and find a third of our yearly operational funding, and this loss would mean we need to try and secure over 60% of our operational funding elsewhere.”

Here is the Trust’s full release arguing its case.

Both organisations are launching major campaigns to rally their constituents.

Whatever the merits for funding in either case, neither group shows any sympathy for the overall ratepayer burden by suggesting what less deserving programmes should be cut instead, or how else HBRC (or any of our councils) should meet their existing public expectations regarding levels of service, let alone pay for cyclone recovery.

It’s just, ‘Don’t gore my ox!’ With a dollop of, ‘How ignorant could these councillors be?’

Across HB’s five councils, our councillors — no more or less ignorant but probably better informed of their choices and constraints than most onlookers — are struggling with a convergence of legacy infrastructure underfunding, cyclone recovery costs, increased central government-imposed responsibilities, and limited revenue options.

So, give them a hand. As I’ll probably urge repeatedly over the next ten weeks of the LTP maelstrom, if you don’t want to pay the increases, get specific about what to cut or defer … or borrow to finance. If it’s not tourism or park funding, what is it?


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *