Council $75k for Cosy Homes trust

The Dunedin City Council is to dip into its electricity fund to help support the newly created Cosy Homes Charitable Trust's efforts to improve the city's housing stock.

Councillors at yesterday's long-term plan deliberations voted to take $50,000 from the Consumer Electricity Fund, which was used to help people struggling to pay their bills, to support the Cosy Homes trust.

Another $25,000 would be taken from general funds to add to the trust's funding, meaning a total of $75,000 in 2015-16, councillors decided.

The decisions came after Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull - who declared his interest as chairman of the Cosy Homes trust - said money allocated to the electricity fund was ''a waste''.

''It just pays the bills and the heat goes out the windows,'' he said.

The electricity fund was a ''Band-Aid'' and while those had their uses, the underlying wound needed to be healed, he said.

For that reason, he supported transferring funding to the newly created Cosy Homes trust, which other organisations were lining up to support, Mr Cull said.

''This is a much more constructive way, and a much more long-term way, of using the money,'' he said.

Council community development manager Rebecca Williams said the electricity fund had been underspent in each of the last few years, allowing it to build up over time.

That would ''soften'' the impact of the transfer of funds to the Cosy Homes trust, she said.

Cr Richard Thomson believed home insulation and other initiatives to be co-ordinated by the trust were where real public health gains could be made, but a longer-term focus was required.

''This whole area is frankly the sewerage pipes and treated water of 100 years ago.''

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the council needed to send a signal to other potential funding providers ''by giving [the trust] a strong chance in its first year''.

''The money in the electricity fund does not make anyone warmer. It just pays the bills ... our focus needs to be on the longer game,'' she said.

''This trust is our best chance to do that.''

Councillors voted to support the change, although Cr Hilary Calvert opposed the extra $25,000 from general funds.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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