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Local Economic Development Grants

The Thames Community Board on Monday discussed a Report on the distribution of its 2018/19 Grants, along with the 2017/18 Report.

The word 'boondogle' comes to mind as we Iook over this display of largesse with our rates. I suppose all councils and boards get up to this method of making 'hand-outs' to favoured groups in the community, but that does not absolve these organisations from being totally 'up-fron' and transparent when it comes to reporting. That is not the case on this occasion. The opportunity for corrupt behavior should be clear, and every precaution needs to be taken to prevent such occurring.

If you can make 'head or tail' out of this Report, then you must must know a great deal more than I. It simply does does not make sense - or for that matter, add up!

I am interested to see that the only grant made last year was to the Treasury (Coromandel Heritage Trust) - ($30,000 to pay for a "full-time manager/archivist") That may well be justified, but our Board needs to be aware of the substantial resources made available in the past to this organisation, and avoid becoming 'trapped' into a permanent funding model for a worthy, but limited institution.

But it appears (it is by no means clear) that they have a substantial number of other institutions looking for  'hand outs' this year - it appears the Board wants to make the grants in this financial year, and 'carry-over' this funding until next year when presumably other grants will be made. That will be interesting.

The objectives for the TCB Local Economic development Grants are to:

  • Provide a fund to support local economic development initiatives;
  • Encourage and support local community endeavours to develop tourism infrastructureand visitor attractions within the Thames Community Board area

I question the whole logic of funding 'tourism infrastructure, and visitor attractions" using our rates, but I guess that can be interpreted fairly widely. It must be the case, because the list of applicants is certainly from a wide spectrum.

I note with concern the amount of $30,000 being made available for the Thames public Art Trust - by far the highest amount, and remember that this Trust is heavily influenced by Board Chair Dianne Connors.  It is supposedly to be used to extend the already bedraggled 'Underfoot Gallery," and to purchase more sculpture for the Rail Trail. If that purchase approximates the last valued at $50,000, then it could be described as a waste of rate-payer funds - if it takes sculpture of dubious artistic merit to attract visitors to the Trail, then it is in even bigger trouble than we had imagined.

We must watch the oversight of this fund very carefully - it has the potential to grow, and grow!



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