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Civic Centre will be built

PHOTO/FILE

2 per cent rates rise agreed
Demolition delayed for 12 months

ARTHUR HAWKES
[email protected]

Masterton District Council sealed the fate of the town hall and surrounding buildings for now, as well as next year’s rates, in a three-hour annual plan consultation on Wednesday morning.

MDC finance manager David Paris had provided a detailed research report showing the various rates rise options, which would be complemented by borrowing from council reserves.

A zero per cent rates rise would require borrowing $1.2 million from the reserve, [about half the total reserve fund]; a two per cent rise would require borrowing $620,000.

“Your decision whether to bring $620,000 or $1.2m, to offset this year’s rates, is a decision that impacts future years, because of the draw on the funds,” Paris said. “It is hard yet to see what the impacts are going to be in the future.”

Support for the rates increase was divided, but a majority opted for a raise of two per cent, rather than no increase at all. Four per cent was the other option tabled.

Tirau Te Tau, Rangitane iwi representative, voiced a desire to retain capital reserves for future uncertainties, a concern supported by several councillors.

“If there is another outbreak, if there is another community transmission case, and this region goes into lockdown, are we in a position to help at the scale we did before?” Te Tau said. “I really think we need to think about that.”

Mayor Lyn Patterson also said she was in support of the two per cent rise.

“It’s not an easy one, but I support the two per cent, for the reasons that have been discussed around here.

“We’re very, very early days, and we don’t know what’s around the corner. I suspect there will be more that will bite us in the backside, in six months or a year’s time.”

Cr Tina Nixon held fast on zero per cent, supporting Cr Bex Johnson who thought the same.

“I’ve been hard on the fact I wanted to see a zero rate increase since day one,” Nixon said.

Cr Chris Peterson, who voted for two per cent, said “this is going to involve about 50 per cent of the best reserve that we’ve got … and we may need to be doing this for quite some time.”

Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont agreed that the motion for a two per cent rise, which passed, was a sensible option.

When it came to the fate of the town hall and surrounding buildings, a motion introduced by Cr Frazer Mailman passed unamended.

It was at odds with council staff’s advice to demolish all three buildings known as the Civic Centre.

Mailman’s motion stated that a multi-purpose facility, incorporating a town hall, would definitely be built in Masterton; that developments of designs and related costings would now proceed; that the use of the Civil Defence Building and Municipal Building would be investigated; that a budget would be allocated within the 2020/21 annual plan for the design and developments of the new centre [to be completed within the next 12 months]; and that the chief executive of MDC would pursue applications to secure funding assistance for the above development and design plans.

During the debate, it was a clash of Latin verse that signalled the two camps, with Peterson erring for the motion not to demolish immediately, and instead spend the next 12 months designing and costing a new centre, summed up by his phrase “festina lente” [make haste slowly].

Iwi representative Rawiri Smith said having a new design that fitted in with Wairarapa did not include keeping the town hall. “Carpe diem” was his choice of wording [seize the day].

Nixon was also for immediate demolition.

“In the absence of any clear direction, we have to make a decision. My decision is still to demolish everything, so that gives us a clean slate to continue and look at a multipurpose facility, if that is the case.”

Johnson said she was on the fence [ultimately voting against the motion for a delayed demolition] but that spending such a large amount on a new town hall was “ludicrous” in this economic climate.

In favour of the motion was Cr Sandy Ryan.

“I strongly believe that a community needs a place to celebrate its diversity, and its social and cultural needs,” she said.

Councillors in favour of Mailman’s motion were David Holmes, Gary Caffell, Ryan, Tim Nelson, Peterson, and Patterson. Against were Johnson, Nixon, Brent Gare and McClymont.

1 COMMENT

  1. Bye Bye town hall. She comming down as some us said from day one. Look forward To tin Shed arising from the ashes.

Comments are closed.

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