Unipol stake under review

The Otago Polytechnic Students Association (OPSA) may reduce its shareholding in the Unipol gymnasium, a move which would also reduce the amount it is expected to pay towards building a new student facility on the Forsyth Barr stadium site.

At present, OPSA owns 20%, with the University of Otago and the Otago University Students Association (OUSA) owning 40% each.

Unipol has outgrown its present leased building on Anzac Ave and there are plans to relocate it to the university-owned building alongside the new stadium in Awatea St.

No-one knows yet how much a new Unipol might cost, although last year, a figure of between $12 million and $20 million was mentioned.

If the cost was in that range and their present shareholdings remained the same, OUSA might need to contribute $4.8 million-$8 million and OPSA $2.4 million-$4 million.

OPSA manager Lesley Scoullar yesterday said a proposal had been drawn up which would reduce OPSA's shareholding and financial contributions but would ensure it retained a seat on the board of Unipol Recreation Ltd, the trading company which administers Unipol.

She would not give details, saying the proposal had not yet been discussed by the OPSA executive.

The executive would meet next month.

Its recommendation would then be put to the Unipol board, probably before the end of the year, she said.

It is not known whether OUSA's shareholding would also be reduced under the proposal.

OUSA president Edwin Darlow yesterday said the proposal was confidential and there was nothing he could say at this stage.

Rebuilding Unipol will require a long-term financial commitment from both student associations if they retain any level of ownership.

Mrs Scouller said OPSA had some money set aside in a rebuilding fund and planned to set aside more next year.

She would not say now much was in the fund so far.

OUSA plans to set aside $300,000 next year towards the rebuild, its draft budget released to students this week says.

The final budget will be confirmed next week.

Earmarking $300,000 would leave OUSA with a small surplus of $18,062 in its capital expenditure budget, which is funded through compulsory building levies on all students.

allison.rudd@odt.co.nz