The frustration in Shane Walsh’s voice is patently obvious.
With less than a week to go a proposed Business Improvement District rate in the Te Awamutu central business district looks dead in the water unless those who claim to support it get out and vote.
Walsh, the Te Awamutu Business Chamber’s chief executive, is the man behind the idea which has worked well in other parts of the country and overseas by reinvigorating retail through a targeted rate. The chamber hopes to raise $50,000 in its first year, adding to owners’ rate bills but spending that money on marketing and promotion for their tenants.
Voting forms went out to 96 business owners and by Monday 19 replies had come back – 13 against the proposal. It needs a 30 per cent return – so another 10 returns – but within the returns, 60 per cent need to be in favour.
“We are confident we are doing the right thing for the retailers,” said Walsh who was brought up in Te Awamutu and worked overseas for several years before returning home around the time of Covid.
He took on the chamber chief executive role last year and now also chairs both Go Waipa and Destination Te Awamutu, hoping he says, to make a difference in the community.
Walsh said the problem was many of the buildings in Te Awamutu CBD were owned by trusts and out of town people and it was they who vote.
“It’s very, very frustrating,” he said.
“You know it’s the right thing to do but getting people to actually do it, I tell you what… I’m trying not to get despondent.”
Council deputy chief executive Ken Morris said the votes were being returned to the council.
“This is a two-stage process. If they can meet the threshold, councillors are committed to including this proposal in the draft Long Term Plan meaning people can submit further.”
Voting closes on Monday (November 20).