By WAYNE THOMPSON

The West Auckland Licensing Trusts say they will donate $80 million to community groups in the next 10 years.

But there is a catch.

Trusts chief executive Murray Spearman said yesterday that annual donations of $8 million over the next 10 years could be maintained only if the Portage and Waitakere trusts kept their liquor sales monopoly.

About 145,000 residents are being asked to vote on the issue after a poll was forced by supermarkets wanting to sell beer and wine.

The deadline for voting has been set for February 25.

In the last financial year, the trusts gave $5.7 million and last November Mr Spearman told the Herald they planned to donate $50 million over the next decade.

When asked yesterday how the figure grew by $30 million in a few months, Mr Spearman said the November figure was based on donations of the past trading year.

"Since then we have done all our figures on what our donations could be this year, and it is $8 million this year, so an extension of that for 10 years gives the $80 million."

Mr Spearman also released to the Herald the trusts' accounts for the year ended March 31, 2002.

This showed the trusts' combined equity was $25,858,000.

Portage Trust had a total operating revenue of $39,384,000 compared with $38,696,000 in 2001 and a net surplus of $511,000, which was down on the previous year's $645,000.

Net assets rose between years from $9,259,000 to $9,770,000.

Waitakere Trust's total operating revenue was $53,868,000 compared with $51,464,000 in 2001, but higher expenses produced a net surplus of $930,000 compared with the previous year's $1154,000.

Net assets rose from $15,157,000 to $16,088,000.