John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Lights a go, for Bay Oval

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Bay Oval. Photo/File
Bay Oval. Photo/File

Tauranga ratepayers are to make a $915,000 contribution to lights at Bay Oval in order to stay in contention for one-day and Twenty20 international cricket fixtures.

Councillors today voted 9-2 to contribute a third of the $2.745 million cost to install flood lights on Blake Park's cricket oval.

It was on condition that the Civic Amenities Group contributed half the cost of the 2016-17 year's design and consenting costs of $300,000, with the council paying the rest.

This would leave the council and the group each paying $765,000 towards the cost to construct the lights in 2017-18, with the Bay Oval Trust contributing the remaining $915,000 from public funding agencies like TECT.

The trust would pay the majority of operating costs, although it had made no commitment to fund depreciation.

An earlier bid failed to get the Civic Amenities Group to pay all this year's design and planning costs. Councillor John Robson argued that it was in order to "see your blood first".

Councillor Rick Curach said the group needed to put its money where its mouth was by funding up front so the council knew for sure.

When this move was lost 7-4, Mayor Stuart Crosby proposed a compromise in which the council and the Civic Amenities Group went halves on design and consenting costs.
"It will give us confidence we are moving forward together."

This was won by a comfortable voice vote. The overall lights funding package in which each partner paid a third of the total costs was then won 9-2, with councillors Curach and Catherine Stewart opposing.

Councillor Curach queried the benefits to the community, saying it was not only the ratepayers contribution but the amount of amount of money that could be coming out of community funding organisations like TECT to help fund the project.

Councillor Catherine Stewart said there was a "lot of warm fuzzies" going on in the debating chamber when there was no guarantee that Tauranga would get games.

There may be other demands from New Zealand Cricket that the council was unaware of.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said the Bay Oval needed lights to make it a truly international facility.

It was important that the council finished this project before it started on another one.

He highlighted other successful partnerships that had led to the construction of Baywave and the ASB Stadium.

He said they needed to finished Bay Oval before the council considered upgrading The Domain which "may or may not happen".

Councillor Leanne Brown said it sent a signal to the Civic Amenities Group to step up.

"A lot of work has been done on this project over a long length of time."
In other decisions today, the council voted 6-4 for a 2.5 per cent rate increase.

It could have dropped $662,000 out of rates after the results of the overall budget wash-up process was disclosed, but instead decided to put the money into the council's risk reserve.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said a 2.5 per cent rate increase was what the council went out with at the start of the public consultation process and there had not been a great volume of submissions opposed to that increase.

He reminded councillors how the risk reserve was cleaned out by the May 2005 floods and guaranteed them that they would need it again for another disaster, "but we don't know when".

The council also decided that its events team should raise $100,000 in event sponsorship and reduce its spending by $30,000 - effectively reducing ratepayers' commitment to events by $130,000.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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