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Waikato gets emergency fund boost

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/06/2016

The organisations can only spend the funding on operations within the Waikato region, such as increased surf life saving patrols at local beaches. © AAP Image/ Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter The organisations can only spend the funding on operations within the Waikato region, such as increased surf life saving patrols at local beaches. Emergency rescue services in Waikato will get a much-needed boost in funding due to a new council fund.

Waikato Regional Council will establish the fund with money to go towards surf life saving, Coastguard, the Auckland Helicopter Trust and Philips Search and Rescue.

The money will be raised from a per-property contribution of $3.74, due to be collected in September, and means the four selected organisations will no longer have to apply to 11 different councils for funding.

Chairwoman Paula Southgate said the four organisations would get more money than what they had received in the past from the collective of councils.

"There is no question surf life saving, Coastguard and rescue helicopter services provide value to the region - they do a splendid job and we recognise the importance of keeping people safe on land and water," she said.

"And while our role isn't to fund charitable organisations we do need to play our part in contributing to regional economic wellbeing."

The organisations can only spend the funding on operations within the Waikato region, such as increased surf life saving patrols at local beaches.

It cannot be used for general overhead costs.

The fund will be reviewed by council in 2018, which will then decide whether to keep it in place.

Ms Southgate said the council didn't see itself as the primary funder for emergency rescue services, and wanted central government to play a role.

It will push central government to consider nationally funding emergency rescue services to ensure fair and sustainable funding across the regions.

WHAT EACH ORGANISATION GETS:

* Surf life saving: $354,600 per year

* Coastguard: $175,400 per year

* Rescue helicopter organisations: $50,000 each per year

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