Coun­cil faces big bill for its crowded home


A po­ten­tial multi-mil­lion-dol­lar de­ci­sion is loom­ing over the home of the Porirua City Coun­cil.

It’s been about two decades since the civic ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing at Cob­ham Court had a big in­ter­nal spruce-up, and a re­cent re­port pre­pared for the coun­cil by en­gi­neer­ing firm Xigo found it was over­crowded in parts and had a be­low-par ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem.

The con­sul­tants put for­ward five op­tions rang­ing from do­ing the bare min­i­mum for about $2.5 mil­lion, up to a whole new build­ing which could cost $16.5 mil­lion.

The coun­cil de­ferred mak­ing a de­ci­sion on what to do with the 50-year-old build­ing dur­ing an an­nual plan meet­ing on June 8, with Mayor Mike Tana mov­ing that the pro­ject in­stead be con­sid­ered this time next year as part of the long-term plan 2018–2038.

The sig­nif­i­cant costs meant the coun­cil did not want ‘‘to lock in some­thing be­fore ex­plor­ing other op­tions’’, Tana said.

He was not aware of any ma­jor com­plaints about staff work­ing con­di­tions. And while they needed to be looked af­ter, it was im­por­tant not to rush a de­ci­sion that could po­ten­tially cost the city $16 mil­lion.

‘‘What­ever we land on, we’ve got to own it.’’

Key find­ings from Xigo’s re­port in­cluded that, along with tired decor, the of­fice lay­out would no longer suit a good work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, while the heat­ing and ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem badly needed an up­grade.

Some parts of the build­ing were over­crowded with 176 staff fill­ing a build­ing that had ad­e­quate space for 155.

An­other 25 had to be based in rented ac­com­mo­da­tion off-site at a cost of $160,000 a year.

Some ceil­ings and par­ti­tions did not meet cur­rent seis­mic codes be­cause they were un­re­strained.

The re­port rec­om­mended the coun­cil spend $7.5 mil­lion to re­fur­bish the build­ing and ex­pand the sec­ond and third floors to cater for all staff.

This op­tion would raise the build­ing to the same level as Up­per Hutt City Coun­cil but still be­low that of Kapiti Coast District Coun­cil or Hutt City Coun­cil.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Wendy Walker said man­age­ment would con­tinue to en­sure staff work in the best pos­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘Bud­get con­straints aren’t any­thing new. We will work within the pa­ram­e­ters the coun­cil has given to en­sure health and safety of all staff is a pri­or­ity.’’


Porirua City Coun­cil’s civic ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing at Cob­ham Court in Porirua orig­i­nally opened in 1967.

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