Heritage incentive mooted

The Dunedin City Council has tentatively agreed to allocate an extra $238,000 to heritage projects but will consult the public before settling on a final amount.

Councillors at yesterday's annual plan budget meeting also agreed to support a ''rates freeze'' for heritage reuse projects.

The ''rates freeze'' meant people carrying out heritage re-use projects could apply to have rates kept level for up to four years - delaying any rates increases arising from increased capital value once a project had been completed.

Councillors were earlier full of praise for the results of the assistance the council provided to heritage projects and tentatively agreed to increase assistance by $238,000.

However, the council would consult the public first. Cr Chris Staynes said the council needed to know whether ratepayers had an ''appetite'' for such an increase.

He emphasised the importance of the fund, saying Dunedin had an ''opportunity to be the best heritage city'' in New Zealand.

''We are lucky that we have these buildings and if we retain them we will see an economic benefit from that,'' he said.

Cr Lee Vandervis said the money the council was putting in was small compared with the total amount spent on projects.

''I don't believe the community really has any idea of the importance of the multiplier effect of this kind of seed funding.''

-vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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