Two of Whanganui's business organisations doubt whether economic development agency Whanganui & Partners can deliver the right outcomes for the district.
The Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and Thrive Whanganui made submissions on Whanganui District Council's annual plan on May 27. Both found fault with Whanganui & Partners' key performance indicators and its ability to work alongside existing organisations.
Whanganui & Partners would receive a funding increase of $240,000 in this financial year, Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Glenda Brown said.
Its key performance indicators include matters outside its expertise, such as delivering a four-star hotel and developing a boutique shopping experience that will attract visitors.
Some of those remain unachieved after three years, yet its funding had continued and increased, she said.
"There is limited accountability for delivery, as well as increased funding for the next 12 months. We do not consider this to be fiscally responsible."
The chamber has 200 member businesses, and Brown said Whanganui & Partners could work more closely with them.
"It is vital that all activities are undertaken in consultation/partnership with leading sector experts and organisations that currently operate in these spaces."
Brown also implored the council to look at the annual plan through a Covid-19 lens and to reconsider a nil rate increase.
Mayor Hamish McDouall said the average rate for commercial properties had decreased this year. Cr Alan Taylor asked Brown which council activity she wanted deprioritised to save money.
The council's big initiatives had broad support from the chamber, Brown said, but its annual plan needed that Covid-19 lens.
"It's not business as usual for anybody."
The Thrive Whanganui Trust works to establish businesses that have social and environmental as well as economic goals. Chairwoman Sharon Bryant said it had sought to work with Whanganui & Partners for a year, with no result.
"We remain confident we will eventually resolve this," Bryant said.
Whanganui & Partners had some good key performance indicators, she said. But others were simply to deliver plans, hold meetings or set projects to be delivered.
"They do not provide a meaningful measure of this organisation's impact or how they will contribute to Whanganui's development."
The performance indicators also used GDP as a measure of progress and there were better measures of wellbeing, Bryant said.
Thrive wants Whanganui to "build back better" after Covid-19.
"We can use business models to solve social, cultural and environmental problems.
"I think it's important that we send a direction that social equity and environmental outcomes are the sort of development that we want to see," Bryant said.
The trust is not confident Whanganui & Partners will deliver results over the next financial year, its submission says.