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Tuesday
Feb212017

Thames Treasury

The Treasury came to Council today with a request for $100,000 a year for ten years to cover the cost of employing a curator and assistant to provide professional input into management to supplement the work of volunteers.

This could have been contentious, but McLean took any potential heat out of it by throwing his full support behind it as a ‘District project.’ There was no dissent from this and little questioning of the consultant employed to prepare the very extensive business case. Geraldine Dunwoodie was present and provided additional information relating to the $100,000 annual grant sought for the next ten years to cover the cost of a curator and assistant.

The grant sought is divided between TCDC, TCB and the Hauraki Council – one third each. TCB will deal with it next week, and Hauraki DC immediately after. The rating effect will for TCDC will be $1.23, for TCB $5.99 and all up $7.22 for Thames rate-payers. 

My only concern relates to the statistics set out on Page 9 of the Business case that outline the the actual visitors to the Treasury over its six years of existenc showing that Year 1 was 384, and Year 6 - 273. The average was 404. The days open were 156 in Year 1 (2.46 visitor av.), and 189 in Year 6 (1.44 visitor av.). This would indicate to me a decreasing demand for the services of the Treasury over that time since it opened, and therefore, the Council should be very careful before committing rate-payer funds to keeping it open. Other visitor facilities, including museums, may not be rated as highly, but they do at least attract visitors in far greater numbers.   

No one at today's meeting questioned these figures. 

And the commitment as written in the decision was clearly towards the ten year deal. There was no staff analysis of the proposal at this stage only a covering paper from the Area Manager, but there will need to be one before the matter is considered along with all other demands at the time the Long Term Plan is written next year. The commitment for the one year contribution was made straight off the submission from Heritage Trust.I guess we can expect similar applications from other similar institutions. 

The nub of the matter is that while the Treasury undoubtedly fulfils a felt need within the community, its past history needs to be taken into account, and in particular its inability to meet its budgets from day one when it received a large injection of funds from the Council that were in the main directed towards to restoration of the old Carnegie building, and subsequently the building of the outstanding new metal clad building that houses the achieve and research facilities.

This was not necessarily its own fault – it was simply that costs has gone beyond budget as the result of some substantial  building errors – I mention the form of heating specified, and the sizing of shelving as examples. But these not unusual in a project of this kind, and blame is hardly useful at this stage. The Trust believed that it was entitled to more Council funding at the time that simply did not eventuate, and it seems to have suffered ever since.

None of this has been helped by the demise of many of the original trustees and supporters. Thus the need to bring in a curator and a paid assistant to undertake the normal museum tasks that have been conducted by volunteers to date. There will be no reduction in the need for volunteers, but according to Geraldine, their roles may change somewhat with the introduction of professionals. 

I believe that the Treasury performs a very useful role for the District(s), but that some hard-headed analysis is called for before long tern commntments are entered into. 

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

I wonder given the ratepayers contribution, whether we will now get reduced entry fee to The Treasury? Agree the lack of daily users is a major concern which should have been addressed. Sounds like it was a done deal before it hit the meeting.

February 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRatepayer

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