The Rotorua Lakes Council has approved an annual increase of $122,500 to Te Tatau o Te Arawa to assist in the running of its operation – an increase of 49 per cent.
But not without questions of timing of the increase related to affordability and the struggle for ratepayers.
The confederation of tribes has been in partnership with the council since 2015, upon which it was granted an operational cost of $250,000.
The additional finance is designated to help with the group’s triennial elections and hiring additional staff. It will also help with engagement with Te Arawa.
All councillors bar Peter Bentley (who sought retention of the status quo) and Reynold Macpherson, who asked several questions – ruled as statements by meeting chair Steve Chadwick – voted in favour.
Councillor Fisher Wang says the council is “not here to move the status quo” but to move into the future and “make some changes”.
“I think we all agree we wouldn’t be here where we are today … without collaboration with Te Tatau Te Arawa.”
Reynold says he supports Cr Wang’s comments, but pointed to “a few anomalies” in the programme.
“It’s disconcerting that a 49 per cent increase in funding to the board is proposed at a time when we are struggling, in my view, to address the questions of affordability to the ratepayers – this is going come from ratepayers to Te Tatau….”
Discourse parried between Steve and Reynold for some time, with Reynold saying the funds are going to a “fixed term project, appointment” and “did they think this is well-timed with people struggling to pay their rates?”
Steve sought a response from chief executive Geoff Williams and says the “appropriateness” of the action tabled was for he (and councillors) to determine.
Councillor Bentley asked if other boards such as lakes and rural sectors were also inline for increased grants to run their operations.
Steve says the Te Tatau grant results from the council’s partnership with Te Arawa whereas funding for the boards to which Peter referred was a responsibility of another source.
Put to the vote, all councillors voted in favour with Peter and Reynold having their votes recorded against the move.