Digital Office seeks $300,000 over three years

Dunedin's Digital Office yesterday called on the council to reverse a decision to cut its funding and instead asked for extra money.

Digital Office general manager Stuart Dillon-Roberts spoke about the benefits that came from the office's activities, which included a project to provide free Wi-Fi access around parts of the city, introducing tablets in schools, helping businesses understand the benefits of going online and the gigatown competition.

The office asked for $100,000 a year for three years to cover its operating costs, maintain a full-time position and keep the office going.

This was ''small'' compared with the amount spent in other New Zealand cities, Mr Dillon-Roberts said.

His comments followed an earlier decision by the council to remove a $60,000 grant for the office from its draft budget for 2014-15.

Cr Hilary Calvert said there was a lack of detail over what was happening with the money given to the office and suggested the office could apply for funds through the grants process.

Mr Dillon-Roberts said its accounts were audited and it had no problem with briefing councillors about its funding streams.

He accepted the need for more accountability.

Cr Aaron Hawkins said it was hard to decide whether to fund the office based on the information it had provided.

The Digital Community Trust also submitted in support of the office being funded, with trustee Peter Hills saying it could not survive without funding.

TechTeach's Nyia Strachan and Dunedin South MP Clare Curran both said the Digital Office and implementation of the council's digital strategy were of critical importance to the city.

Wireless Internet Connections Ltd managing director Dr Stewart Fleming agreed with the council on Thursday that funding should be pulled from the Digital Office, but lamented the way the council's digital strategy had been implemented.

The council should lead an independent review of the operating structure, funding models and staffing of the Digital Office, he said.

The council had settled on an excellent strategy but implementation through the office had been poor and now was a perfect time to get it back on track.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter