Nod for funds to brace buildings

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
Dunedin heritage building owners may next year get financial help with earthquake strengthening, both through an increase in the council's heritage fund, and a targeted rate system.

The decision followed sharp words among councillors at a recent meeting as they fought over funding for their areas of interest.

Cr Lee Vandervis has been involved in earthquake strengthening through his role as chairman of the heritage buildings economic reuse steering committee.

A report to the finance, strategy and development committee, from heritage policy planner Glen Hazelton, called for to provide information on a targeted rate to assist building owners to strengthen their buildings against earthquakes, suggested a variety of options.

But Cr Vandervis argued the committee should just give the council's heritage fund another $120,000 a year, on top of the $80,000 in the fund at the moment.

The fund was "run as tight as a drum", Cr Vandervis said.

"Are you suggesting we increase rates to fund this?" Cr Fliss Butcher asked.

Cr Vandervis replied the idea was "not a pet project", but a "desperate attempt" to save buildings.

Cr Butcher suggested the money could come from the Art in Public Places budget, which had a "loose" $100,000 that had not been spent.

That suggestion did not go down well with Art in Public Places committee member Cr Bill Acklin.

"It's not loose," he said of the budget.

The committee voted for a targeted rate for earthquake strengthening, allowing building owners to borrow money for the work and repay it through rates, with the debt remaining with the property, rather than the owner.

The rate would be at no cost to the council.

It also voted for the extra money for the heritage fund, though committee chairman Cr Syd Brown noted the decision would have to be approved as part of next year's annual plan.



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