$2.45M of emergency services funding allocated
The Northland Regional Council is to allocate $2.45 million of funding to four separate emergency services providers over the next three years.
The council introduced a new $900,000 annual 'Contestable Emergency Services Fund' as part of its Long Term Plan 2015-25 earlier this year, with councillors yesterday formally allocating the first suite of funding.
The fund – which costs ratepayers roughly $12 per household annually – replaces the regional council's former emergency services helicopter rate, as well as all other similar funding from all four Northland councils.
Regional council chairman Bill Shepherd says successful applicants and their yearly GST-exclusive allocations are:
- Northland Emergency Services Trust; $525,000 annually for operational costs for its air rescue and ambulance service
- Surf Life Saving Northern Region; $120,000 annually for professional guards at popular beaches outside volunteer patrol hours
- St John Northern Region; $90,000 annually to partially-fund replacement of Northland ambulances
- Coastguard Northern Region; $84,000 annually for operating, support and training costs.
He says successful applicants will be funded for a three-year period (subject to suitable performance measures) to provide them with budgetary certainty.
Yesterday's funding decisions mark the conclusion of a two-stage process that had effectively begun in August with a call for initial registrations of interests from qualifying organisations.
Six of an 10 original applicants had qualified to advance to a second stage, which had seen examination of their specific financial requests, proposed measures and targets and business cases.
"Those six applicants had collectively sought $4,811,420 over the three years, roughly twice the available funding."
Councillor Shepherd says by the time a provision of nine percent was deducted for any partial non-collection of the rate, the council was yesterday left with a total of $2.457M to allocate over the three years.
He says council was sympathetic to the plight of the two organisations which had yesterday missed out (both search and rescue groups) and ideally would have liked to have been in a position to fully fund all six eligible applicants.
"We listened to our community during the LTP consultation process and increased the annual funding pool to $900,000 ($100,000 more than initially proposed) but despite this we were ultimately unable to meet all of the applicants' expectations."
Even the four successful applicants had still received lesser sums than they had hoped for, Cr Shepherd says.