The Hastings Council has begun the sports park shell game in full earnest. Hang on to your wallets! You won’t be able to find the pea under the walnut.

You remember the promises don’t you … three sacrosanct phases, phases 2 & 3 absolutely not to proceed (Councillor after Councillor assured us) until full funding for each phase was in hand. That included $37 million in “external” funding to be raised.

Remember?

Well, the Sports Park Trust, with complicity from the Hastings Council, wants to toss all that out the window. In the new scenario, $1.4 million worth of Phase 2 items now magically become critical parts of Phase 1 (so much for Kelt’s $600,000 of careful planning). With only $2.4 million in external funding raised for Phase 1 (against a requirement of $5.33 million), Council funds “allocated” for later phases need to be advanced to pay for the first phase. And of course doing that requires additional Council borrowing. None of the Phase 2 external funds have been raised (against an additional requirement of $5.08 million). Phase 3 might become Phase 2 if the cycling gods smile on the velodrome. And so forth.

The Sports Park Trust failed to get the new “advance the funding” scenario passed the Council a few weeks ago. They hadn’t done enough homework on the finances … apparently too busy working on their flash promotional DVD. Some Councillors are clearly worried that more ratepayer dollars than previously projected will be required to subsidise operating costs. It looks like Splash Planet all over again!

Nevertheless, the Sports Park Trust is coming back this month to try another pass at the Council’s (i.e., ratepayers’) pocketbook.

You know who’s getting the biggest workout from the sports park? Accountants!

It’s all trickier than a carnival shell game. And you know who always loses in those!

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