About $1.7 million worth of renovations are underway at the Rotorua Lakes Council building, and some councillors say it’s “not a good look” when people are struggling to put food on the table.
Mayor Steve Chadwick says ceiling tiles have fallen on her desk and it would cost more down the track if renovations and repairs were delayed.
Council chief financial officer Thomas Colle says the renovations of the first floor - where the chief executive, mayor and senior executive leadership team’s offices reside - is a continued part of work that began in 2016. The first floor also contains the IT, strategy and human resources teams.
He says “renewal” of the civic centre has been approved by the council in 2015 as part of the 2015-25 Long Term Plan.
Just under $4 million had been allocated for that, over six years.
“The building is more than 30 years old and this is the first extensive renewal programme since it opened."
Repairs and replacements included fixing holes in floors, holes in ceilings, sulphur dioxide leaks, replacing scuffed carpets, old furniture, air conditioning, and data wiring and renewing public and staff toilets, he says.
Work began in 2016 with roof repairs, followed by work on the ground floor, the second floor and now the first floor.
“Staging the refurbishment over an extended period of time, rather than doing it all at once, has avoided the cost that would be associated with having to vacate the building and lease external premises.
“We are now in the final stages with work progressing on the first floor and this is expected to be almost complete by the end of the year.”
Thomas manages the council’s property team.
Councillor Peter Bentley says the area has been renovated “within the past six years”, with increased security procedures and a more complex system of gaining access.
He says undertaking the renovation is in his opinion “very poor” in the “present pandemic climate”.
Councillor Raj Kumar says now is “not the time” for renovations.
"I think we should stop it. We shouldn't be doing anything. Put the money where it is going to be needed.
“People are struggling to put food on the table.”
He says whether the funding for the renovations is in the Long Term Plan or not, “we should review it”.
"The Long Term Plan had [an] economic boom in mind, but the boom is not there. We are in recovery mode."
"It's not a good idea, it's not a good look.
"It is ratepayer money. Somebody needs to call the shots and say 'hey man, we are not going to spend any more money'.
"The mayor from the top, should be able to say 'no more'.”
A council spokeswoman says the first floor is occupied by the mayor and executive team along with the IT, strategy and human resources teams.
This stage of renovations cost about $1.7 m and began in October.
Mayor Steve Chadwick says the building has been in a “parlous state” for “some years”.
“I’ve had ceiling tiles fall on my desk.
“Continuously putting much-needed repairs, maintenance and renewals off only costs more in the long run.
“Part of the Rotorua economic recovery strategy that elected members adopted – and which is reflected in our draft annual plan – is re-starting council projects that were already underway as quickly as possible, to help keep businesses in work and people in jobs.
“That is part of the economic stimulus [the] council can provide to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 and contribute to the recovery.
“The Civic Centre renovations are providing work for local contractors and their staff.”
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