Tamahere ratepayers could have an extra $3.94 added to their annual regional council rates under a proposal being considered to fund a national cycling centre near Cambridge.
Public consultation is open until August 22 on a $6 million funding proposal for a national cycling centre of excellence, including a velodrome, at St Peter’s School, near Cambridge, after the Waikato Regional Council produced a proposal detailing its costs and benefits and rating options.
The council wants to know whether people support a $6 million grant toward the $28.5 million dollar velodrome, and their preferred rating option.
Funding would come from internal borrowing from the council’s investment fund and be repaid by ratepayers over a 20-year period. The loan will be charged 5.65% interest, reviewed every three years as part of the council’s long term plan, resulting in an annual rating requirement of $601,109.
The council is seeking feedback on two ratepayer funding options to repay the loan. One is a region-wide flat rate of $3.18 which spreads the cost evenly across the region
The second is a two-tier funding system which suggests there is a localised benefit of the proposed facility. This would see ratepayers in Tamahere, Eureka, Waipa and Hamilton pay $3.94 a year, and all other ratepayers $2.66.
Any Waikato Regional Council rates that go into the velodrome would be in addition to the Waipa District Council’s $1 million contribution, which amounts to $4.84 per rateable property. The regional council will also be asking the region’s territorial authorities to submit on the proposal stating their formal position on whether the regional council should apply a regional rate to fund the $6 million. Councils will be asked to identify their preferred rating option.
If the regional council funds the proposal it would need to make changes to its current long term plan, including a new funding policy and updating the treasury policy to allow internal borrowings to apply to the grant.
The Home of Cycling Charitable Trust, spearheaded by former Olympic rower and Tamahere resident Rob Waddell, has secured $13.7 million of the $28.5 million it has sought, subject to conditions, from central government ($7 million), Waipa District Council ($1 million), Rotorua District Council ($100,000) community and gaming trusts ($3.1 million) and an interest-bearing loan ($2.5 million).
Regional council chairman Peter Buckley said the council had heard equal numbers of voices for and against the proposal “and it would have been undemocratic to simply kick it to touch without even hearing formally from the public.”
“In a perfect world we would have done things very differently but the 14 September deadline imposed by the government funding agency [Sparc] meant the trust could not seek council support through the usual annual or long term planning processes. At the same time the consultation is running the council is undertaking further work to assess the benefits of the proposal which includes an independent economic impact assessment.
“After a lot of debate, the council considered it was the right thing to do to spend around $150,000 to properly research the proposal and then put it in front of the public.”
The statement of proposal and submission form are available on the Waikato Regional Council website, from all public libraries and council offices or on request by calling 0800 800 401.
People can also join the conversation on the council’s Facebook page.
Consultation closes at 4pm on Monday, August 22. Hearings are scheduled for September, with an extraordinary council meeting to be held on Wednesday, September 14 to decide whether to fund the proposed centre.