Nelmac’s Linda Vandercolk and Paul Andrews hanging up baskets. Photo: File.

Council to fully-fund hanging baskets?

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Inner-city businesses in Nelson may no longer have to contribute to hanging flower baskets outside their shops.

Last Thursday, Nelson City Council’s works and infrastructure committee recommended that council fully-fund the programme from the parking and CBD enhancement account, due to the decline in national and international chain stores participating in the annual scheme.

A final decision will be made at the next full council meeting on 13 December.

Council’s parks and facilities manager Rosie Bartlett said in a report that a request for a contribution waiver from a restaurant owner on Hardy St initiated a review and council have spent a significant amount of time door knocking and talking to retailers.

Currently, it costs businesses $40 for a basket. Last year, with 422 baskets installed, this collected $15, 974. Rosie said they have the capacity for an additional 79 baskets.

The report said that if council votes to fully fund the baskets, it will cost them an extra $16,000.

But councillor Tim Skinner said he couldn’t “see any cost or problem” due to the loss of income being offset by an administration cost saving of $6,850 for invoicing, as well as approximately $4,000 in additional staff time to visit each business, and follow-up administration work.

“It’s only really costing around $5,000 and saving staff time. $16,000 is really misleading.”

Councillor Matt Lawrey supported the recommendation.

“One of the things I like about what’s being proposed is that when we have empty shops, there will be flowers outside them.”

Councillor Paul Matheson suggested the baskets should be extended to Stoke and Tahunanui but CEO Pat Dougherty said that would be a “different game altogether” as there is no parking account in those suburbs.

The hanging baskets were introduced in 2000 and are displayed ever year from December until April.