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National cycling centre of excellence proposal open to public comment

Public consultation starts tomorrow on a $6 million funding proposal for a national cycling centre of excellence, including a velodrome, near Cambridge.

At an extraordinary council meeting yesterday, Waikato Regional Council finalised the statement of proposal detailing the costs and benefits of the proposed velodrome and the rating options.

Chairman Peter Buckley said the council had vigorously debated the issues and options.

“We have followed good process and done all that is required of us legally – it’s now up to the public to tell us their views on the proposal,” he said.

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 investment fund and repaid by ratepayers over a 20-year period. The loan will be charged 5.65 per cent interest reviewed every three years as part of the 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.

The first option 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 recognises the localised benefit of the proposed facility. This would see properties in Waipa, Hamilton, Tamahere and Eureka wards of Waikato district pay $3.94 a year, and all other ratepayers $2.66.

Any Waikato Regional Council rates would be in addition to the cost of the Waipa $1 million contribution which amounts to $4.84 per rateable property. The regional council will also be askingthe region’s territorial authorities to submit on the statement of 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 proposed cycling centre of excellence it would need to make changes to the 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 behind the bid has secured $13.7 million of the $28.5 million 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).

Cr Buckley said the council had carefully considered the issues before deciding whether to consult with the public following a request from the Home of Cycling Trust for local government funding.

“We are hearing 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,” he said.

“In a perfect world we would have done things very differently but the 14 September deadline imposed by the government funding agency 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:

People can also join the conversation at www.facebook.com/waikatoregion.

Consultation closes at 4pm on Monday, 22 August 2011. Hearings are scheduled for September, with an extraordinary council meeting to be held on Wednesday, 14 September to decide whether to fund the proposed centre.

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