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Cr Hilary Calvert questioned whether a gold coin entry fee could help alleviate the budgetary difficulties for Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, during the Dunedin City Council's annual plan hearings yesterday.
Cr Calvert's questioning came during Otago Settlers Association Phil Dowsett's submission.
"I just can't help wondering if $300,000 wouldn't go a long way towards helping you out,'' she said.
"Are you absolutely against asking those who turn up to your museum for a gold coin?''
The museum produced a deficit of $205,000 for the seven months to January 2016 - $40,000 worse than budget.
That loss came despite visitor numbers being 70% higher than budgeted.
Mr Dowsett said the removal of fees to enter the museum had come with disadvantages, but there were "many advantages to it being removed''.
"Clearly if there was a charge there wouldn't be 300,000 visitors per year.''
In rebuttal, Cr Calvert responded: "I can think of 300,000-600,000 reasons for doing it''.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull was quick to clamp down on the line of questioning, noting the association did not run the museum and calling her question "inappropriate''.
Mr Dowsett, in his submission, asked for an increase of staffing at the museum as staffing levels were based on visitor numbers of 180,000 and not the 300,000 experienced last year and expected in future.