Critique ‘awkward’ in grants process

A new process for applying for community grants is like entering a beauty competition without knowing the judging criteria, Queenstown Lakes district councillors were told yesterday.

During his submission on the council’s draft 2021-31 10-year plan in Queenstown yesterday, Glenorchy Community Association chairman John Glover said it felt "exceptionally awkward" to ask for funding in a submission that also critiqued the council’s plans and projects.

That hindered open consultation, and he expected most groups would have "tempered" their submissions as a result, Mr Glover said.

"Like all the other community groups who have had to justify their funding through this process, we find ourselves in a beauty competition without knowing the judging criteria, but cognisant that for every winner there are losers."

The funding available for community groups was insufficient, and if a small rates increase was needed to boost that amount, it was "well worth it".

The volunteer hours community groups put into their projects "significantly magnifies the impact of the ratepayer dollar spend", he said.

From this year, community groups must apply for grants through the plan submission process, even if they normally receive an annual grant or rent costs.

The council says the change is to ensure community grants are given out in a "structured way".

Shaping Our Future board member Jon Mitchell said the new process made it difficult for organisations to "provide constructive feedback as well as asking for financial support".

Funding for community groups had also "flatlined" over the past 10 years, Mr Mitchell said.

Lakes District Museum director David Clarke said that previously, it had not needed to apply for operational funding each year.

"It would be very beneficial for ongoing museum planning to have funding support established for a set period."

The hearing continues in Wanaka today.

The 10-year plan, which the council calls its blueprint for investment in the district’s infrastructure and services over the next 10 years, takes effect from July 1.

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