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OM’s Ian Griffin values 5% levy increase

Tūhura Science Centre at Otago Museum.

Tim Scott, Funding increase not a long-term solution, Otago Daily Times,  24 May 2023

Otago Museum is celebrating an increase in funding but says the extra cash will not solve its long-term financial woes.

Dr Ian Griffin.

Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said the 5% levy increase approved by Dunedin City Council was much better than the planned 2%, but did not match the 7% increase it asked for.

Nonetheless, he was grateful for the increased funding after the announcement was made at the 2023-24 annual plan deliberations on Monday.

“While we are disappointed not to receive 7% funding in line with inflation, we completely understand the pressures that the council is under at this time.

“However, in the longer term, the museum needs to find a more sustainable way to fund our operations,” Dr Griffin said.

The 5% increase would help cover the increased cost of the living wage, which the museum prided itself on paying all its staff.

Care of the collection was a number one priority for the museum and was something it would work hard to maintain, Dr Griffin said.

The very close vote reflected how tight the budget for the council was this year, he said.

He was encouraged by the support expressed by councillors, even those who voted against the increased funding, and appreciated their concerns about the financial burden passed on to ratepayers.

“As ratepayers ourselves, we are all conscious of the impact of rate increases on our family budgets, and we work very hard to ensure the museum spends money wisely.”

He was mystified by some councillors objections to a lack of detail around what the funding would be spent on and said the museum considered itself more open than any other cultural institution in the city regarding reporting its finances.

It was the responsibility of the central government to fund the international significance of the museum, Dr Griffin said.

The museum, holding a collection of more than 1.5 million objects, supported national and international research that was used to inform New Zealand’s future policies on climate change.

The museum would be making representations to the Government that its work should be funded by taxpayers rather than ratepayers.

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