Auckland's rescue helicopter service is flush with cash compared with other agencies that access a ratepayers' levy.
The Westpac-sponsored helicopter trust returned a $3.4 million surplus last financial year and is on track for a similar result this year. Its income of $7.7 million in the six months to December 31 included $3 million in donations, $967,000 from sponsors and $2.3 million in reimbursement from ACC and district health boards for contracted flights.
In contrast, five of the 10 agencies that access the Auckland Council's arms-length regional amenities fund are running deficits.
But the trust has accused the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board of bias after its budget was cut by $300,000 for the current financial year and a further $450,000 for 2014-15. It is awaiting the outcome of a judicial review over this year's allocation and last week threatened further litigation until Mayor Len Brown promised to abolish the funding board. Mr Brown has now softened his stance, promising to review the board's governing legislation.
The board plans to distribute $14 million in 2014-15 to the 10 organisations, ranging from the Auckland Festival Trust and Auckland Philharmonia to the Northern Coastguard and Waterwise Auckland.
Funding board chairman Vern Walsh says the levy was set up to give not-for-profits that provide regional services a degree of security, and some had less capacity to fundraise than others. Organisations that had achieved sustainability could not expect the same level of support.