31 Mar 2011

Auckland ratepayers will meet cost of extra games

9:58 pm on 31 March 2011

Auckland Council has voted strongly in favour of meeting the cost of the city's three additional Rugby World Cup games.

Facing a bill of up to $2.9 million to host two quarterfinals and an extra pool match relocated from earthquake-damaged Christchurch, the council hopes a major cost-saving drive will find the money to pay it.

Chief executive Dog McKay told a council meeting on Thursday that good progress is being made in a drive already under way to find $63 million of savings.

The funding decision incudes building a new broadcast tower at North Harbour Stadium.

While supporting hosting the matches, nearly a third of the councillors opposed the idea of ratepayers footing the bill, saying the Government or the Rugby Union should meet the extra costs.

Rates target not at risk - mayor

Mayor Len Brown opened a 90-minute debate by saying New Zealand's reputation was at stake and it was time for Auckland to step up.

Economic benefits are just part of the reason, he said: the big issue is defining Auckland to the global community and opening up the city for people to visit in the decades and generations ahead.

Mr Brown said a cost-cutting programme inside the council would not endanger the target of rates rising by no more than 4.9%.