$225,000 of rates to lure movie makers to the Bay

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Anton Steel of the Bay of Plenty Film Trust puts the case for a $75,000-a-year contribution from the Tauranga City Council to help establish a Regional Film Office. Photo/George Novak

By John Cousins

Tauranga's commercial ratepayers will be asked to stump up with $225,000 for the next three years to help lure movie makers to the Bay of Plenty.

The council's economic development and investment committee has backed an approach from the Bay of Plenty Film Trust to set up a Regional Film Office.

Pukehina filmmaker Anton Steel pitched his idea to the council yesterday, saying the screen media industry was currently worth $3 billion a year to New Zealand, but only 1 per cent of the money was spent outside Auckland and Wellington in the North Island.

He asked the council to contribute $75,000 of the $261,000 needed each year from the region's councils and grant organisations to make the regional film office happen.

"This represents a significant untapped economic growth opportunity for Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty," he said.

The trust sees an immediate market opportunity for domestic and international films in the $5m to $30m range, with a short-term goal to secure $2m to $4m of investment flowing into the Bay by 2020.

Mr Steel said the initial focus would be location filming. The target was to secure larger films and more post-production and full-production opportunities.

However, because the funding request did not arrive in time for inclusion in the 2017-18 Annual Plan that went out for public consultation yesterday, the committee decided to request a submission from Tauranga's economic development organisation Priority One for the Annual Plan process on the film trust proposal.

Priority One's response will include feedback on the proposal from the business community.

The committee, which comprised six of the 10 members of the council plus Mayor Greg Brownless, has recommended the request by Priority One to support the film trust for $75,000 a year for three years.

The money will be raised by increasing the targeted economic development rate funded by commercial ratepayers, on the basis that businesses support the proposal and the other councils in the Bay also agree to help fund the initiative.

Boosting the economic development rate means a business with a capital valuation of $500,000 will pay another $6 in rates.

Councillor Rick Curach said it seemed odd that the request should come to the committee on the day that public submissions kicked off on the Annual Plan.

Strategic planner Ross Hudson said it was a little bit unfortunate that the proposal could not come through in the context of the Annual Plan.

Bay of Plenty Film has already received $75,000 of seed funding from four councils, BayTrust, Bay of Connections and Priority One.

Councillor Gail McIntosh was told by Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt that the proposal was pretty much a no-brainer in terms of ranking it beside other targets for the economic development rate.

Mr Brownless said the council needed to know that the funding would be on a pro-rata basis around the councils or else Tauranga could end up subsidising everyone else.

How will the $260,000 be spent this year

Staff: 52 per cent

Marketing and events: $30 per cent

Overheads: 18 per cent

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