Winners and losers in early Tasman council budgets create debate

A concept drawing of the proposed Nelson Provincial Museum’s new archives, research and collections facility,  earmarked for a site adjacent to the existing central Nelson museum. The Tasman District Council has included a $3m grant for the project in its preliminary budgets for its next Long Term Plan.

MATT FROST/NELSON PROVINCIAL MUSEUM

A concept drawing of the proposed Nelson Provincial Museum’s new archives, research and collections facility, earmarked for a site adjacent to the existing central Nelson museum. The Tasman District Council has included a $3m grant for the project in its preliminary budgets for its next Long Term Plan.

Visitor information centres at Golden Bay, Motueka and Murchison are three of seven organisations that will have funding included in the preliminary budgets of the Tasman District Council Long Term Plan 2021-31.

Warmer Healthier Homes, Age Concern and the Nelson Tasman Climate Forum are three of six organisations that will not have requested funding included in those preliminary budgets.

This partial early list of organisations that may be in for some council funding and those that may be out caused debate among councillors on Thursday around the strategy and policy committee table, a hint of the robust discussion that is likely as the council develops its next 10-year plan.

Councillor Dana Wensley wanted the lists removed but her motion was lost 7-5 and then a majority of councillors agreed to funding for those organisations being either in or out of the preliminary budgets.

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The Murchison visitor information centre, which is to have funding of $15,000 a year for the first three years included in the preliminary budgets for the Tasman District Council Long Term Plan 2021-31.

Marion van Dijk/Stuff

The Murchison visitor information centre, which is to have funding of $15,000 a year for the first three years included in the preliminary budgets for the Tasman District Council Long Term Plan 2021-31.

The organisations on the list for inclusion in the LTP preliminary budgets are: Tasman Bays Heritage Trust ($3m one-off grant) for the Nelson Provincial Museum’s new archives, collection and research facility; Golden Bay visitor information centre ($30,000 for the first three years, subject to annual review); Motueka visitor information centre ($40,000 for the first three years, subject to annual review);Murchison visitor information centre ($15,000 for the first three years, subject to annual review), Nelson Tasman Business Trust ($15,000 a year across 10 years), Tasman Environmental Trust ($40,000 a year across 10 years) and the Motueka Bowling Club ($80,000 one-off grant funded through the council’s reserve financial contributions, not general rates).

Those organisations that a majority of councillors agreed not to include in the LTP preliminary budgets are: Warmer Healthier Homes ($50,000 a year), Top of the South Neighbourhood Support ($20,000 a year), Brook Waimārama Sanctuary ($25,000 a year), Age Concern ($30,000 a year), Golden Bay Community Arts Council (no funding specified) and Nelson-Tasman Climate Forum (no funding specified).

Wensley said it did not “sit well” with her to have those organisations excluded “when we have $85,000 for visitor information centres and $80,000 for Motueka Bowling Club when we’ve got no information as to their finances or as to their need or the community support”.

“But I certainly have a lot of information about the Nelson Tasman Climate Forum’s need for funding,” she said.

Deputy mayor Stuart Bryant says organisations whose funding requests are not included in the preliminary budgets can resubmit during the formal engagement process for the council’s Long Term Plan.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/Stuff

Deputy mayor Stuart Bryant says organisations whose funding requests are not included in the preliminary budgets can resubmit during the formal engagement process for the council’s Long Term Plan.

The lists come after 221 individuals and groups provided the council with feedback on its 2020 Vision for Tasman document, which was its early engagement process for the LTP. Once completed, the draft LTP will have to go out for formal consultation, tipped to be in March-April next year.

Councillors discussed the early engagement feedback at a behind-closed-doors workshop on July 15 and provided “indications” on what decisions could be made to help staff prepare the preliminary budgets, activity management plans and LTP consultation document.

Those decisions were made on Thursday via a resolution that included the two lists.

Deputy mayor Stuart Bryant said those organisations whose funding requests were not included in the preliminary budgets would have the opportunity to resubmit through the formal engagement process.

Councillor Barry Dowler said “three LTPs ago” a swimming pool for Motueka was in the 10-year plan but it was “kicked out” on the last day.

“In the morning it was in, after lunch it was out,” Dowler said. “So, even if it’s in there, you are not safe until the final day.”

Councillor Trindi Walker says she believes it’s premature to start naming groups whose funding requests are to be included in the LTP preliminary budgets.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/Stuff

Councillor Trindi Walker says she believes it’s premature to start naming groups whose funding requests are to be included in the LTP preliminary budgets.

Wensley said she wondered whether it was worth having the lists “because it does seem to indicate to some that they will get funding more than others who we’ve said we’re not going to include them in the preliminary budgets”.

However, councillor Trevor Tuffnell said some of these organisations “really do need an indicator of what sort of funding is possible”.

Mayor Tim King he was comfortable whether the lists stayed or were removed. The LTP process was “in many ways political”.

1 NEWS

Public health expert Michael Baker says there are two key things to look at before we move out of lockdown.

“Ultimately, staff will bring back a budget based on the discussion we have on all of the items across all of the council,” he said.

Councillor Trindi Walker said in her opinion, the LTP early engagement was hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant “a lot of people” did not take part in the process.

“I think, it’s very premature to start naming these groups,” Walker said. “I think, we’re dangling a carrot in front of someone and then potentially – as councillor Dowler’s said – at the 11th hour, that can be pulled and then again that impacts our name in our communities and I wouldn’t want to see that happen.”

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