A liquor-free function centre is to be built beside the Pyes Pa Crematorium chapel at a cost of $270,000.
Tauranga City Council over-rode objections from Legacy Funerals founder Greg Brownless and yesterday backed the function room by a vote of 8-3.
It will allow families and friends using the chapel to get together afterwards over a cup of tea and sandwiches, instead of having to travel further afield.
The 114sq m centre will consist of a lounge, kitchen and deck, with covered walkways linked to the chapel and toilets. It will be funded from the $400,000 reserve in the cemeteries account.
Council property manager Anthony Averill said a lounge had been needed for a long time although the project was in response to Legacy Funerals installing a cremator at its nearby Tauranga Park chapel.
Legacy was formerly one of the biggest users of the council's crematorium and the function centre plan was to ensure the cemetery business did not end up a drain on ratepayers.
Mr Averill said they did not consult with Mr Brownless over the plan because they did not think they needed to. It was not a case of taking business away from other venues but adding to the council's enterprise to make sure it stayed self-funding.
If 50 per cent of chapel users hired the lounge for one hour at $140 an hour, it would add $11,000 a year to the cemetery surplus, or $18,000 if 70 per cent used the facility.
Audio-visual links between the chapel and the lounge meant it could be used as an overflow room for services in the chapel.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said the issue had been over-dramatised by Mr Brownless.
All but one of the city's funeral directors said the lounge was needed, he said.
Councillor David Stewart opposed the lounge, saying it was a commercial venture and commercial interests did it better than the council.
Councillor Larry Baldock responded that to suggest the council was getting involved in a commercial business was bizarre. It was not proposing to run a catering business.
Those opposed to the lounge were councillors Bill Grainger, Wayne Moultrie and David Stewart.