Heaven spent

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Bankrupt takes Anglicans’ $72,000 with him.

The bankruptcy of Glenorchy businessman Tim Brownie has left a Queenstown church looking to the heavens for $72,000.

The Anglican Church’s Earl Street Charitable Trust has written off the debt, chairman Mark Taylor tells Mountain Scene this week.

He says Brownie leased offices in April 2007 in a new building the trust put up on the site of the former Earl St vicarage.

Profits from the new building are dedicated to charitable uses. The trust lent Brownie $55,000 to fit out his upstairs premises.

Brownie failed to make a single payment on either the rent or the fitout loan so his lease was terminated, Taylor says.

“The only reason he gave was cashflow difficulties.”

Taylor says Brownie engaged lawyers “when we got tough on him and threatened foreclosure”.

A local lawyer, who doesn’t want to be named, confirms his firm advised Brownie but wasn’t paid either.

Last October, the church trust got judgment against Brownie and his company Morton Trustees New Zealand for $72,000.

The sum comprised the fitout loan, unpaid rent, interest and costs including legal fees.

When the trust came to enforce the judgment on April 9, it found Brownie had been bankrupted the day before.

“The official assignee will be dealing with him, collecting what they can,” Taylor says. “I’m sure [repayment] will be limited.”

Taylor adds the trust has also missed out on about $30,000 in rent since the lease was terminated, and though the office fitout is complete “it’s of limited value if it doesn’t happen to suit whoever the next [tenant] is”.

The Anglican trust is yet to make any surplus to give to charity but Brownie’s debt puts it even further behind, Taylor maintains.

“We have no exact examples [of charitable purposes] but an example would be employment of a social worker to work with those having difficulties, eg gambling, budgeting, family dysfunction.”

The church’s Bishop David Coles calls the dead debt “a disappointment”.

“Because of the vacancies in the [trust building’s] shops and the vacant offices that [Brownie] left behind, we’re not returning any profit yet.”

Mountain Scene understands contractors who did the fitout also struggled for payments from Brownie. Electrical contractor Jason Campbell says he only got his final $5000 payment about a month ago, via a debt collection company.

“I definitely feel sorry for the church – I think [Brownie’s] certainly taken them for a ride.”

Mountain Scene was unable to contact Brownie this week despite leaving messages on his answerphone at the Glenorchy Holiday Park and General Store – a business owned by his father.