Kircher vocal about disagreements over museum funding

Gary Kircher
Gary Kircher
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher has called the Clutha District Council's refusal to pay the full amount of its prescribed share of next year's funding for Otago Museum in Dunedin "misguided''.

Further, he said he would not support an increase to Waitaki's contribution to the museum.

The Clutha council declined to sign a draft agreement with the other Otago councils which determined how much each would contribute. Under the 2018-19 proposed budget, $4,267,826 would come from local council contributions.

The funding formula was based on proximity to the museum and population, Mr Kircher said, and when the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which had been left out of the initial agreement, agreed to contribute to the museum - and offset the Clutha contribution - Clutha had not signed the agreement "due to some misguided principle that Waitaki should pay more''.

Waitaki paid "a considerable amount'' towards its own museum, Mr Kircher wrote in his mayor's report to councillors to be tabled tomorrow, and Waitaki residents lived further away and therefore had less access to Otago Museum.

"There is no way that I support any increase in the level of our contribution to Otago Museum,'' he said.

"In fact, I would happily accept back all of the artefacts that came from Waitaki and are being kept at Otago Museum.''

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he had disputed the funding formula "for the last 20 years''.

Despite the inclusion of Queenstown Lakes in the funding formula, offsetting some of Clutha's contribution, the funding formula was not based on an "equitable financial philosophy''.

"This was never ever about saving Clutha money,'' he said.

"It was to try and find a long-term equitable way of us all meeting our collective responsibilities.''

The agreement that Clutha baulked at last month would have split the payments so that: Dunedin City Council paid 93.7%, or $3,998,952.90; Central Otago District Council paying 0.63%, or $26,887.30; Queenstown Lakes District Council paying 0.72%, or $30,728.35; Clutha District Council paying 3.69%, or $157,482.77; and the Waitaki District Council 1.26%, or $53,774.61.

Mr Cadogan said as Clutha had agreed to pay only what it considered it was legally obliged to, $121,000, Dunedin had been left carrying the shortfall, which was not a sustainable position, and he wanted the issue resolved.

Arguing that Clutha should pay more because of a quicker travel time between Balclutha and Dunedin than Oamaru and Dunedin was "rubbish''; the museum's function went beyond putting on exhibits for regional punters.

"Overwhelmingly, you or I will never get to see the majority of the . . . artefacts and pieces in the collection,'' Mr Cadogan said.

"It's not as much about going and visiting it as it is the collective moral responsibility that all of Otago has to preserve our heritage for the future generations.

"Can you tell me why someone who lives in Oamaru has less of a responsibility than someone who lives in Owaka?

"Where's the fairness? All I am asking for is some fairness.''


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