Gotta appreciate the sight of all those newbie Hastings Councillors pedaling stationary bikes in support of the velodrome bid.
It turns out that pedaling mightily, but going nowhere, is an apt metaphor for the sports park fundraising effort. Indeed, the latest report from the Sports Park Trust, to be reviewed by the Hastings Council on Tuesday, indicates the fundraising is going backwards.
In December last year, Councillors and the public were told that $8.42 million had been raised for the sports park. Of that amount, $3.92 million was reportedly for the netball and football facilities. At the time, Mayor Yule wrote: “We have a very high level of confidence about the $8.4million dollars of fundraising.”
On Tuesday, however, the Council will be told that only $7.27 million has been raised, a shortfall of $1.15 million. The fundraising shortfall — all in the projected quantum required for netball and football facilities — is being managed by deferring the capital works involved. The Council agenda materials include $425,000 in projected funding, which the Council notes “has not been committed,” and $1.2 million in “delayed sponsorship payments” of which only $0.68m is “from sources that have contractual arrangements in place.”
A year ago, only Councillor Wayne Bradshaw had the fortitude to press the Sports Park Trust (and his fellow Councillors) for more transparency with respect to its fundraising and budgeting. His reward for seeking to protect the pockets of ratepayers was to be stripped this term of his Chairmanship of the Council’s Finance Committee.
This week we’ll get to see just how rigorously new Councillors are prepared to scrutinize Sports Park finances, and particularly its fundraising efforts. Or have they already ‘gotten the message’ via the example of Council Bradshaw … keep your lips zipped if you want to get along on the Hastings Council.
It shouldn’t be surprising that in the last year-plus of economic distress, fundraising goals would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet. What would be appreciated, however, is a bit of candor and honesty.
Whether or not a velodrome is forthcoming, the sports park is a reality, hosting a major national athletic event this past weekend. The issue is now financial transparency and accountability. And not just for the elements of the park already committed to.
On Tuesday, judging from the Council agenda, Councillors will be asked to reach into ratepayer pockets for further financial support to make the velodrome pitch (that decision is expected in April). This would be supplemental to funds advanced last year (from HDC, HBRC, NCC and Unison). As usual, the matter of committing more of your funds will be decided in public-excluded session, unless new Councillors prove to be more pro-transparency than the folks they replaced.
Tuesday’s Council meeting will shed some interesting light on whether the Council newbies represent a heightened sense of accountability … or just more of the same. Place your bets!