Push for levies to fund tourism, sport

By Lawrence Gullery

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A levy to promote Hastings tourism and another to pay for the upkeep of sport and recreation assets could be introduced next year if there's enough support from the Hastings District Council.

The council's finance and monitoring committee meets tomorrow to discuss the targeted rates proposed by councillor Ru Collin.

"Over the past two or three years people have asked how does Hastings get the best out of its tourism and promotional activity, which is really being run by Hawke's Bay Tourism, out of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council," Cr Collin said.

"Every household in the region pays something like $15 each to Hawke's Bay Tourism and Hastings District Properties Limited also pay a small amount to help with promoting the region as a whole.

"I am asking the council to look at whether we should look at what's involved in supporting promotions that have a focus on Hastings district."

Cr Collin noted in his report, ratepayers had contributed to failed regional tourism and economic development groups such as Vision 20/20, which was redeveloped into Hawke's Bay Inc.

It later became Venture Hawke's Bay, which was disbanded a few years ago.

His proposal requests the rating review committee take a closer look at the levy idea.

Sport and recreation was also an area which may need a special levy, and a strategic plan to manage development of new parks across the region.

"A lot of our sports assets look tired and we need to do some work around how we fund maintenance or renewal of those assets," Cr Collin said.

"We have got a Hawke's Bay Sports Council, which is supposed to be developing a strategy, but it has been sitting there for some time not completed. In my opinion there's not enough cross sport co-ordination."

Cr Collin said the hockey turf situation in Hawke's Bay was an example of why an overall sports strategy was needed.

"We need more hockey fields, and we need a decent one in Hastings but we are also contemplating an international turf. You've seen all of the arguments about why we need an international turf away from Park Island in Napier. That is a case where we need a strategy and a very good way to identify what the pros and cons are of achieving those two things."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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