Christmas Parade Survives

Helensville’s Christmas Parade was in danger of cancellation, but thanks to the efforts of a few, funds have been raised to see it through this year. But ongoing – future years?
The real issue is lack of a local Helensville business association. The first parade was in 1959, when a business association was formed. Across all the years the business community oversaw the organising and funding of the event.
In 2013 the association was absorbed into what is now North West Country Business Improvement District (BID). This includes all commercially zoned properties (owners and tenants) through Riverhead, Kumeu, Huapai, Waimauku, Helensville, Parakai and Kaukapakapa. It does not include Woodhill or Muriwai and many of the wineries/hospitality providers, yet the tourism promotional spend favours those operators. Also excluded from full membership benefits are home based businesses and any businesses located on non-commercially zoned property.
Under the BID, properties are subject to a targeted rate – BID levy – minimum $250, with some properties charged $1,000’s. This is compulsory, yet membership is only formalised by completing paperwork which many ‘members’ are not aware of.
Around $60,000 is extracted from Helensville (including Parakai and Kaukapakapa) in BID levies. Some of this in fact goes straight into Auckland Council coffers. The BID is ‘controlled’ by Auckland Council, with Rodney Local Board having an integral role. Yet the deputy chair of the local board is also the BID manager, paid $85,000 annually. Conflict of interest? Almost half of the $180,000 in levies passed to the BID annually goes on management/administration.
What does Helensville get out of this? $60,000 worth? If we were able to return to having our own locally focussed business association, we could do so much. 100 members at $100 membership each would provide for the Christmas Parade, light pole flags?, Christmas lights?, etc. And businesses would have the current compulsory levy to spend as they choose to improve their business.
Helensville business – we need our own local voice.

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