Smaller museum may be more costly

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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Southland ratepayers could end up paying out more to fund a reduced Southland Museum and Art Gallery upgrade.

At a Southland District Council meeting yesterday, Southland Museum and Art Gallery Trust board chairman Darren Ludlow said he hoped the council would honour an agreement made in 2012, when it had indicated it would increase regional heritage rates this year to help cover the cost of the upgrade.

Regional heritage rates would rise from $27.29 per property per annum to $39.50 plus GST, or less than the cost of an adult movie ticket, he said.

While the Government had signalled it would provide funding to the project, local government contributions needed to be organised before this could be accessed.

Mr Ludlow was concerned if the system took too long, government funds would be spent on something else.

"That's why we need to get the process underway."

Invercargill City and Gore District councils would be asked to increase their heritage rates, and Environment Southland would also be approached about contributing, he said.

The board hoped for $3.2m in funding from local government, but a cash contribution would not be sought from the council on top of rates rises, he said.

Southland District Council mayor Frana Cardno said the council would decide whether to raise the contribution during its rates discussions later in the year.

Councillor Paul Duffy said part of the agreement would allow smaller community museums within the Southland district to access some of the rates to fund upgrades or maintenance, which Mr Ludlow acknowledged.

Meanwhile, museumologist Ken Gorbey had finished his review of the proposed $24.6m museum upgrade and reported back to the trust board, Mr Ludlow said. While not yet finalised, the end result was likely to be a smaller expansion and refurbishment of the pyramid, costing about $20m.

The refurbishment was necessary because the pyramid leaked "significantly" and there was not enough storage space, he said.

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