Council approves $75,000 funding top-up for sports park

By Nicki Harper

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SUPPORT: The Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park Trust, which has provided financial support for the Festival of Hockey, will receive more council funding to help meet future expenses. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR
SUPPORT: The Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park Trust, which has provided financial support for the Festival of Hockey, will receive more council funding to help meet future expenses. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR

The Hastings District Council has approved extra operational funding of $75,000 per annum for the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park Trust.

The top-up compensates for the trust's projected shortfall in the wake of its financial contributions to the Festival of Hockey over the last three years.

The increase would lift the council's yearly contribution from $230,000 per annum (as has been in place since 2009) to $305,000, with the additional funding to be taken from the 2015/16 rating surplus.

Sports Park chief executive Jock Mackintosh told a council meeting last week that the park had attracted 145,000 people in the 2012/2013 year, that number predicted to double in the next year to about 298,000.

Users had covered the spectrum from the recent primary schools cross country to community events such as the Relay for Life, and the elite international hockey tournament.

"Where we are at now is bigger, better and delivering more than we anticipated at the start," he said.

He noted that a significant proportion of operational funding, 42 per cent, had been raised through sponsorships and grants, including negotiating the renewal of the Higgins sponsorship of $50,000 per annum.

This was on top of ongoing support from the Smith family of Pak'nSave Hastings who have committed a total $500,000 in extending the sponsorship of the Netball Centre until 2025.

Over the last three years, however, the trust had put $231,000 into the Festival of Hockey, and a report noted that if the council did not make the extra annual contribution the trust would be in a cash deficit position of $42,000 for 2016/2017, increasing to $394,000 in 2020/21.

It was, however, developing an asset management plan for future maintenance and renewal requirements, and its reserve for this purpose was $50,600 as of June 30 this year.

Sports Park trust chairman Rex Graham said there had been a budget for the hockey, but if the trust had not contributed the festival would probably not have happened.

He also noted that the council contributed 30 per cent of the revenue stream to the park, compared to 42 per cent from private investors and 28 per cent from park users.

"We have been very aggressive when approaching private investors and raised $250,000 last year. If the council gives us $75,000 it will bring their input up to 38 per cent. We were hoping to cover this with other funding but it's not looking too good."

The issue of how much the user paid would be something that would probably need to be looked at in the future, he added.

"If ratepayers are paying they are contributing, but user pays is probably going to be an issue we need to think about as a community."

The council agreed to include the increase in the draft 2017/18 annual plan and the draft 2018/28 long-term plan, and also approved the trust developing a temporary strength and conditioning facility at the park, in conjunction with the Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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