Marineland will cost Napier ratepayers $381,000 in the coming fiscal year, according to the draft budget about to be issued for public consultation.

On the one hand, that’s not even 1% of Napier City Council’s proposed $41 million budget.

But considering that the Council only approved $183,000 in spending on new services for the year, the archaic Marineland represents a significant opportunity cost for Napier ratepayers … more than twice as much spending on subsidising dolphin exploitation as on new services that might actually benefit the people.

How many Napier ratepayers — if the issue were crystallised for them this way — would choose $381,000 for Marineland visitors (a dwindling troupe) over the same amount in new amenities or expanded services for themselves?

Of course the Council can’t zero out the Marineland budget overnight … that would leave Kelly the dolphin and some aquatic companions flopping on the pavement. [Which some might regard as a mercy killing.]

That said, the Council just can’t seem to come up with a strategy for scraping the Marineland didymo off its shoes. When Councillor Furlong in budget session proposed a modest edit to budget language, changing:

“Council may not be able to replace the dolphins at Marineland …” to reflect the reality …
“Council will not be able to replace the dolphins at Marineland …”

serious consternation followed. So, in a marvelous demonstration of political courage, the potentially offending clause was deleted entirely! An elegant solution proposed by the Mayor (you gotta love her!).

Thank god Napier Councillors don’t have BIG issues to contend with! I don’t think I could endure attending Council sessions. The stress would be incapacitating.


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