Whanganui District Council has provided some relief to Masters Games organisers with councillors voting to increase annual funding for the event, but they wouldn't commit to the requested figure of $100,000.
A report recommending council increases the annual funding amount from $40,000 to $100,000 was put to Tuesday's council meeting.
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The Masters Games is 49 per cent owned by the Whanganui District Council and hosted in Whanganui every two years, with Dunedin hosting it in alternate years. The Whanganui Masters Games Trust owns the other 51 per cent of the event.
This year's event, which was held in February, recorded a preliminary financial loss of around $19,000 and saw a drop in participants.
The number of competitors for the 10-day event was 4242, down 3.2 per cent or 137 athletes on the previous event.
Although some figures trended down, the event is credited with pumping about $2.9 million into the local economy and around $135,000 to local sports clubs through sports fee collections.
Leighton Toy, council's property general manager and Whanganui Masters Games Trust chairman, presented the report to councillors and said the need for a full-time games manager was discussed during debrief sessions following the 2019 event.
"In order for us to really get some form of consistency and look to improve the quality of service, we need the sufficient level of financing to be able to procure the services of a full-times games manager, and to have a two, three or four games manager."
Toy said a games manager needed a minimum of 15 months to prepare the event, and that the trust was already two or three months behind where it would want to be.
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Several councillors voiced their opinion that Mark Ward from Whanganui & Partners should have been present as the $40,000 contribution is one of the agency's line items.
Toy said he had met with Ward who had given verbal support for additional funding, but not reshuffling of the existing budget.
Councillor Hadleigh Reid questioned how the trust came to the figure of $100,000.
"It's not a fine number but it's to cover the salaries of a games manager. To have the confidence we've got guaranteed funding to provide to a games manager," Toy said.
"We've got feedback from market and it's in that ballpark."
Toy discussed the benefits to having a games manager in place as soon as possible, and said he planned for the successful candidate to be in Dunedin to learn from the 2020 Masters Games in February.
"The games manager is a resource to go out there and secure funding for games, so that's the rationale having a games manager on board 15 months in advance.
"They're responsible for ensuring this event is at least break-even, and if we scrape and skimp then we're only going to put the trust under greater financial risk and being a council-owned event, that just puts all this with council."
Dunedin has a permanent games manager but Toy said the Dunedin event uses a different operating model than Whanganui. He said Dunedin's council supplied $120,000 in funding during years the event was held, and $100,000 in off-years.
Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan said she would have liked to see formal support from Whanganui & Partners and the New Zealand Masters Games Company.
Councillor Jenny Duncan said she supported the recommendation but said she had reservations around the process.
Mayor Hamish McDouall said the process had been sloppy, but the most compelling figure was the $2.9m the event brought into the Whanganui economy.
"That's really not bad expenditure," McDouall said.
"To raise this to $100,000, admittedly not during the budget process and it needs to come back before it's going to be raised for 2021/2022, so it must come back to the annual plan otherwise it won't happen.
"I support it, it's a great event for Whanganui and it gives buoyancy at the start of every second year."
All councillors voted to pass the amended recommendation for council to increase the annual grant funding from $40,000 up to a maximum of $100,000.