In a fairly major policy change, the Wellington City Council have just announced that it is possible to apply retrospectively for funding from the council’s Heritage Fund for earthquake strengthening, which has a budget of 1.2 million for 2016-2017. This will allow owners who had to carry out urgent repairs, or pay for engineering assessments, immediately after the November 2016 quake, to apply retrospectively to get some of those costs back in the council’s March 2017 funding round. Prior to this the policy was that it was not possible to apply for money for work already underway – which is a fairly standard requirement of grant-givers.
In the same vein, in the latest funding round which occurred this week, the fund has given $100,000 to the St Mary’s of the Angel’s seismic strengthening project, which has been underway for a number of years, which will apparently be used for the organ and to reinstate the cork-tile floor. This is in addition to the $150,000 it already received for the project earlier in the year. It has been reported that the council staff had prepared papers asking for $70,000 for the church, but Councillor Nicola Young amended the proposal to give them $100,000.
City Councillor Iona Pannett has expressed some concern with the precedent set by retrospective funding applications. Likewise, while the St Mary’s project is incredibly worthy and I wouldn’t begrudge it the money, and I agree that it is fair that urgent work done after the quake should be eligible, I do wonder if there is a risk that old seismic projects could all apply for retrospective funding and eat away at the budget, until there is nothing left for new ones? It will be interesting to see the list of successful applications in the March round.
The recipients of the funding in this December round were:
* The Mount Cook Police Barracks in Buckle Street
* The Wedge building in Glenbervie Terrace
* A house in Holloway Road, painting
* 1 Riddiford Street – the building with the leadlights shop, near the hospital, repair to roof
* $100,000 for the St Mary of the Angel’s seismic strengthening project.
Photo – St Mary’s of the Angels, 2012, Andrew Caldwell, released under a Creative Common’s license Attribution 2.0 Generic