Big cuts in Promotions Group funding

A "failing" promotions group has had its funding slashed and its promotions officer $10,000 out of pocket.

Discussions heated up as Cromwell Community Board members received applications to the contestable Cromwell Promotions Grant at its meeting yesterday.

Purse strings were pulled tight with a budget of $103,000 having to be spread across applications totalling $178,000 for the 2014-2015 financial year.

The Cromwell & Districts Promotion Group, asking for the "lion's share" of the funds with an application of $100,000, came under the most scrutiny.

Board members questioned the group's ability to not only provide value for money, but its ability to perform capably in a modern marketing environment.

"There is a lack of capability in modern marketing and promotion methods and because it is bulk funded there is a lack of accountability and lack of transparency," Cr Nigel McKinlay said.

The members rejected an application of $15,500 to support the group's attendance at the Canterbury A&P Show, rejected its application of $5600 to support local events, paid out $2000 of the $8000 requested for the fireworks display and shaved $10,000 off the salary of the group's promotion officer who receives $40,000 annually - unless the group can provide evidence the position is worth $40,000.

Shirley Calvert said it was an "extraordinary" amount of money for what the community was getting.

"I cannot see the justification. As ratepayer money we are responsible for their money and we need to make sure we are getting good value for it and I don't think we do."

McKinlay also questioned the value for money, and the salary level given the number of events the group held and the fact it was a voluntary organisation.

"Maybe we are paying $40,000 for $30,000 worth of work? It is very hard to judge that because of the way the building funding application is presented."

He suggested the position be funded on a pro rata basis.

"Somewhere in the region of $30-35 sounds not unreasonable for the quantum of work presented," he said.

Chairman Neil Gillespie questioned if the board took money away from the position, who would do the work, to which Calvert responded "people will come out of the woodwork".

"That sounds like blind faith to me. We have a very different view of what that group does . . . it sounds like you are setting it up to fail," Gillespie said.

"I think it has failed already . . . this has gone on for too long," she said.

"Shirley - what has gone wrong for so long? We have just agreed to fund a whole lot of stuff."

Gillespie said the role had to be sustainable, so someone could get an income from it.

"I have had firsthand personal experience with this group. There are certainly issues that are happening with where they are going . . . but the group itself has to be the ones to drive change.

"If we want to drive change, we have to become the Promotions Group and I don't think it's a viable option."

The Southland Times