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Published: 2015-05-26 00:00:00

A multi-million dollar fund to support regional-scale development will be established by the Waikato Regional Council.

Chairperson Paula Southgate said yesterday’s decision to establish the fund followed extensive discussion by councillors during deliberations on the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan.

“Regional development is a key strategic focus of this council and standing still is not an option – a strong economy, robust communities and healthy environments require action,” Cr Southgate said.

“This fund will help to build and attract investment and economic progress in our region, enable our environment to be enriched as we go, and truly make the Waikato a better place in which to live, work and play.”

Cr Southgate said the fund would help the region to realise its full potential and support projects with intergenerational benefit.

Over the plan’s 10 years it’s expected almost $26 million would be available to inject into regional-scale projects.

It will be funded by way of revenue from the council’s investment fund, after subsidising rates and allowing for inflation-proofing.

However, councillors agreed the annual rates subsidy of $2.3 million would be phased out over the next 10 years. This will have no impact on rates though, as it will be offset by efficiency savings.

Councillors agreed that an independent group would be formed to provide recommendations to the whole council, who will remain the decision makers.

It was also agreed that events and festivals would be ineligible for funding.

Of the 102 submissions received on the proposal, more than half supported establishing a regional development fund.

A number of submissions suggested amendments to the funding policy, and in particular the scope of the fund and criteria used to assess applications. A final decision on the scope and criteria will be made at the council's meeting in June. 

Long term plan deliberations concluded today.