Councillors frustrated at Govt funding cut

An attempt by some Dunedin city councillors to signal their frustration at government funding cuts was narrowly defeated yesterday.

Councillors had been weighing up whether to provide $100,000 to Sport Otago to help fund its Active Families programme, after Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc) declined to continue its funding.

Several councillors wanted to give voice to their annoyance at Sparc's decision, with Cr Colin Weatherall suggesting the amount be reduced to $50,000 to signal their "frustration".

The idea was supported by Crs Fliss Butcher and Syd Brown, with Cr Brown saying it was an example of central government providing initial support for a programme, then "pulling the rug out" from under local authorities.

"If we cave in and come to the funding rescue of central government, it's just a trend that's going to continue."

Other councillors felt Sport Otago should not be punished for someone else's decisions. Cr Bill Acklin said Sparc's decision was "annoying, frustrating and quite wrong", but believed the Active Families programme was too important to hurt.

Cr Michael Guest believed the programme was "very, very important", while Cr John Bezett also opposed any move to "penalise the programme" over Sparc's decision.

"It would only mean a diminished programme."

Cr Weatherall's attempt to reduce the amount was put to a vote and defeated, after which councillors voted to approve the $100,000 for Sport Otago.

Later, discussing civic grants, it was suggested by Cr Bezett a $135,000 contestable fund - created during last month's annual plan hearings to help fund events wanting to grow - be reduced to $35,000.

The idea won support from Cr Syd Brown, but was defeated at the vote and the original amount - $135,000 - was approved.


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