Local councillors and others are balking at the idea of using NZ$16.8m of taxpayer money to fund a new superyacht facility in Auckland. Local news sources said the politicians are divided over providing funds to the NZ$45m facility proposed for Wynyard Quarter. A further NZ$90m of investment by marine firms is expected to follow once the haul-out and production facility is up and running.
Waterfront Auckland, which is owned by the council, is behind the proposed facility. John Dalzell, the organization’s chief executive, said it would create significant jobs and growth for the city. He told the New Zealand Herald that the cost of the lift-out facility would not generate a sufficient return for private industry to fund it alone. Dalzell said the refit facility would be worth NZ$161m over 25 years to the Auckland economy.
Waterfront Auckland has a current memorandum of understanding with Orams Marine to become a private partner in the project with a $16.8 million council contribution.
But the project has attracted 116 submissions, mainly by opponents who do not want taxes to be used. Many local taxpayers are facing increases of more than 10 per cent.
"Interestingly, the superyacht industry doesn't seem to be lobbying us, nor is there much sign of the private sector wanting to throw money towards supporting such a facility," Cameron Brewer, a councilor, told the paper. "You really have to wonder if this is a priority for Auckland's suburban ratepayers at this time."
Auckland Mayor Len Brown defended the project, saying a key part of the council’s focus was for building up exports. The superyacht segment would provide refit projects from all over the world, he said. "The council's involvement would be a catalyst to ensure private companies who wouldn't otherwise be involved have the ability to get on board," Brown told the paper.
Currently, the project is part of Brown's long-term budget. The paper noted that he faces "significant" opposition to the budget.