An application for a hardship grant of more than $12,000 from Alexandra District Museum Incorporated (ADMI) has been declined by the Central Otago District Council.

That decision was made at a full meeting of the council last week and comes after the matter was tabled at a meeting in May.

At a council meeting on May 5, the council agreed to let a hardship grant application request of $12,242 plus GST lie, pending a decision on the district museum function as part of the long-term plan 2021-31 process.

In a report to councillors, community development officer Nikki Aaron said ADMI, operating as Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery, had received an annual grant from the council since 2005.

The grant amount from the council for the past three years was $48,967.80 plus GST per year, which was in addition to the annual grant received from the Vincent Community Board, of $73,451.52 per annum.

Both grants contributed to the operational costs of the museum and were linked to service level agreements with the council and board respectively, she said.

At the long-term plan deliberations meeting on June 2, the council decided not to support the status quo option to fund ADMI as a district museum carrying out associated district functions.

On June 9, the Vincent Community Board considered a hardship grant application from ADMI and resolved to grant it $18,364.

In her report, Ms Aaron said the 2019 grants policy required all community and promotions grant funding to be allocated through a contestable process at six-monthly funding rounds, each October and April.

The transition to this funding timeline commenced from the adoption of the 2021-31 long-term plan a week ago.

As this represented a change in operational timelines for the council’s funding rounds, the hardship grant was set up for groups who had been reliant on council grants to pay staff wages and would be at risk of being unable to continue paying these wages without this funding.

The ADMI hardship grants applications were to enable ADMI’s continued operation until its grant applications to the council and the community board contestable funding rounds could be heard and were for a total of $30,606 in hardship grant funding to cover operating costs for three months (July through September) from the council and $18,364 from the Vincent Community Board, Ms Aaron said.

According to ADMI’s three-monthly profit and loss report, the average monthly cost to keep the doors open and staff paid was about $10,675.

ADMI’s financial balance sheet as of March 31 stated the group had $215,429 in the bank tagged to the Elizabeth Heafy Bequest, which meant ADMI had $35,429 left for operational expenses.

The trust also had the money it had been granted by the Vincent Community Board, which it would receive after the long-term plan was signed off.

It was understood the Elizabeth Heafy Bequest was not for any specific purpose but the trust board had resolved it be retained as a capital investment, and the interest be accumulated to buy a specific artwork or artefact for the museum collection.

It was not the preference of the trust to use these funds for operational expenses, the report said.