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Motu Trust first in line for GDC grant

THE Motu Cycling Trust is the first beneficiary of a new $200,000 discretionary fund established by Gisborne District Council. The trust will receive $10,000 because of the new policy established by the council as part of the 2016/17 annual plan process.

The council distributes at least $1 million a year for community programmes, making it one of the biggest funders of these programmes in the district. These include ratepayer-funded grant schemes and third party grants such as Creative Communities that are distributed through the council.

Staff have told the council that it receives numerous requests each year for funding and other support. While many of these are made through formal funding avenues such as grant schemes, some requests are made either to the mayor, chief executive, at council meetings or to individual staff. There was no clear policy to respond to these requests, which were outside formal funding avenues.

The council has been told by the auditor-general that best practice is to have a system in place to ensure transparency and accountability in council activities. A full policy and processes will be presented to the council at its next meeting. Chief executive Judy Campbell told the council that there was a missing element in the present policy, where the community often asked for things that were not material to the annual plan but were to the individuals involved.

“This is about the community coming to you and asking you to do things,” she said. “When somebody comes and says never mind what your plans are, I want my drain done and you agree to that, the concept is that it would be pulled from this fund because it was not in the budget.”

It was a process of council allocating contestable money on an annual basis. They were just trying to create a little bit of flexibility in the budget, as had been done in the 10-year plan.

“It was an allocation so the council was not actually obliged to spend it or give it away. It was just some flexibility so the council had the opportunity to get some funding if it wanted to."

These were all worthy things and she did not want to be the one making the decision to decline them. This would leave the council in control of applications and make sure they were not done on a first-in, first-served basis. Otherwise you were asking people to wait three years.

Rehette Stoltz said the council had these requests all the time and this looked like a common sense, straightforward community-minded policy. The Motu Trails had grown so much since it was funded and now covered the whole region. It had national and international media coverage and she was proud this was the first recipient of this excellent grant. Roger Haisman said this fund should be for infrastructure not community development which was a soft target.

Motu trails, file picture