M.A.D.E disputes claims of budget overrun

THE director of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) has disputed claims the centre has blown its budget. 

Despite council concerns over high spending and low revenue, M.A.D.E director Jane Smith said the centre was on track to meet its revised budget. 

A report to be tabled at Ballarat City Council’s meeting on Wednesday states: “The linear trend line for M.A.D.E’s non-council income is in descent and an analysis of expected future non-council funds has indicated the centre is unlikely to attract adequate ... revenue to continue in its current form.”

Although $750,000 was originally set aside for the operating budget through 2013-14, Ms Smith said this figure was revised to $1.5 million after a business review was undertaken by the City of Ballarat towards the end of last year.

City of Ballarat CEO Anthony Schinck told The Courier last week that the council’s annual contribution would not be increasing. 

“I think if we, for example, went back to the $750,000 budget, you will have another Eureka Centre, which didn’t work,” Ms Smith said.

The new council report makes a number of recommendations to help M.A.D.E cut its costs.

This original budget figure was devised from the Eureka Centre budget in 2009 with the recognition it would not be adequate for the M.A.D.E facility, according to Ms Smith. 

On completion of the business review Ms Smith said there was an understanding the centre would need between $1.4 million and $1.5 million to operate each financial year.

“We have not blown the budget, we are working with the budget that was agreed to by council,” she said. 

“The M.A.D.E board is seeing all the revenue and expense targets, and we are on target for this year.”

Ms Smith said the centre was showing large growth in visitor numbers and schools booking to attend the facility.

“We have had a good working relationship with the City and we want to continue to see that,” she said. 

“So we need to continue explaining to them the amounts of money M.A.D.E needs to continue to function.” 

A large portion of the $750,000 originally set aside for the centre had to be used in various start-up costs, including $200,000 to cover capital cost overruns in the building phase of the project. This left only $260,000 for operating costs for the entire year.

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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