Auckland Councillors have voted to give an extra $14.5 million of ratepayer money to pay for cost over-runs for construction of the America’s Cup village.
It follows higher than forecast costs for wave breaks and dredging works at Auckland’s waterfront.
The council debated today whether they should come up with an extra funding for the event as the cost of wave breaks and dredging works turned out to be higher than originally expected.
The government has also promised to put $22.5m dollars towards covering the extra cost, which would bring its total contribution to $136.5m.
Economic Development Minister David Parker said yesterday the government would only pay up if the council pitched in too.
And councillors were warned today that without the extra money the Americas Cup wouldn’t go ahead.
Mayor Phil Goff questioned Tina Symmans of the America’s Cup event company about the need for the additional funding.
“If we were to make a decision not to put that $14.5m in and they therefore would not be making their contribution, where would that leave the America’s Cup?” Mr Goff asked Ms Symmans.
“I think we’d have to have very serious and many conversations as a result of that,” she replied, adding that the entire event would “absolutely” be put in jeopardy.
Councillor Mike Lee was not impressed by the cost over-runs.
“We made an… agreement earlier this year on expert advice – we thought – about how much it would cost and now we have this major increment,” he said.
“I’m getting off the bus here. We made a point earlier this year that, don’t come back and ask for more. And so it looks like that advice wasn’t really taken to heart, wasn’t taken as being serious. Well, from me it was serious and therefore I’m not going to support another cent extra for the America’s Cup.”
The initial cost estimate over-run was actually $99m but after the government and council demanded a review, it went down to $29 million.
Councillor Wayne Walker was amazed that the initial estimate could be so far off.
He questioned what benefits the extra money would actually give to Auckland’s ratepayers.
“The debt implications of this project mean that we’re actually going to have to pull debt funding of other projects,” he said.
Councillor Christine Fletcher said she would support the additional funding, but not before giving the government and the developers a stern telling off.
“It’s a bloody great shame that we’re having to pay a bit more money but I think we are going to have a really good event and we need to get in behind this. But be on notice, MR CEO … you’ve hit the limit in terms of tolerance from the ratepayer.”
All but four councillors voted in favour of providing the funding.