$120,000 ratepayer contribution to next year's Jazz Festival is in doubt after the decision was shown to be outside the rules that  control Tauranga City Council grants for flagship events.

Councillor Murray Guy has succeeded in blocking a  decision by the council's secretive subcommittee which allocates grants for community events. 

Flagship events are given the highest priority for the annual $250,000 pool of money.

At the Tauranga Jazz Festival 2011 - Amanda Brook, Mikaela Butler, Anna Henson, and Kirsten Raynor - Chris Callinan.

At the Tauranga Jazz Festival 2011 - Amanda Brook, Mikaela Butler, Anna Henson, and Kirsten Raynor - Chris Callinan.

The casting vote of chairman Larry Baldock was needed to push through a $30,000 grant and $90,000 loan for the Jazz Festival, which asked for an additional $90,000 because of the scale of its 50th anniversary celebrations, including a major international  act.

A question mark also surrounds the $25,000 annual grant to the Tauranga Arts Festival  in October.

Cr Baldock settled the 4-4 split in favour of the Jazz Festival. Opposing were Crs Guy, Rick Curach, Bill Grainger and Catherine Stewart, and supporting were Crs Baldock, Tony Christiansen, Bill Faulkner and Mayor Stuart Crosby.

Cr Guy  took the issue to council executive staff. Following discussions between Mr Crosby and city directions manager Christine Jones this week, it was decided to put aside the Jazz Festival decision and for the $120,000 application to be considered by the council next month.

Ms Jones said the rest of the subcommittee's decisions were being analysed against policy to see if any other grants needed to come back to the council. The council can legally deviate from policy.

Cr Guy said his actions were not aimed at the Jazz Festival but at the council sticking to policy. 

The Jazz Festival decision had fallen outside the policy which said  flagship events needed to be financially independent within six years.

He also said  organisers had not demonstrated a clear financial pathway towards the day when the festival  did not need to rely on council money.

"I hope that this is a wake-up call. If the policies are not meeting community needs then the answer is to change the policy - not ignore it," he said.

The Jazz Festival sought a cash grant of $120,000 in recognition of the special nature of next year's event, but the subcommittee opted to stick with the usual grant of $30,000 and make the rest a loan. The rationale was that the anniversary celebrations plus the drawcard of a major international act would secure enough profit to repay the loan.

Cr Baldock defended his chairmanship, saying he had sought advice from staff  about the six-year deadline on the grant and been advised it was within policy. 

He now understood that the Jazz Festival and the Arts Festival had been outside policy for the past two years.

Mr Crosby, an ex-officio member of the subcommittee, said Cr Guy had raised a valid point. "The subcommittee can't step outside its brief."

He said the six-year period had been reviewed and extended for some flagship events while for others, such as  the Jazz Festival, it had not.

Mr Crosby said the funding policy would be reviewed  this year. He would like to see a higher level of information and assessments from applicants, including an analysis of the last event. 

His other ideas included seconding outside event experts on to the subcommittee so it was not all councillors, and for the events funding budget to be reviewed because it had not changed for about 10 years.

Comment