$4m to boost council's building services

By Carmen Hall

Add a comment
GOING DIGITAL: Carrus general manager Scott Adams said he welcomed the council's upgrade to online consent services.PHOTO/FILE
GOING DIGITAL: Carrus general manager Scott Adams said he welcomed the council's upgrade to online consent services.PHOTO/FILE

Tauranga City Council is expected to spend $4 million on salaries and resources for building services in 2016/17 and upgrade its online consent services after being slammed by industry leaders for causing costly delays.

The jump in expenditure, which is $1.84m more than budgeted for, comes hard on the heels of the building boom and strong economic growth.

Figures from Priority One show the total value of consents for Tauranga in 2015 was $678.9m - 32 per cent higher than the previous peak of $512.27m in 2006 - and the highest since its records began in 2003.

Council data also revealed it had to hire more staff last year to cope with demand.

It now has 16 building inspectors up from 11 in January 2015 and 14 building processing officers up from 12 over the same timeframe. They are part of a team of 45, with vacancies still to be filled.

Classic Builders director Peter Cooney said the council "needs to pull their finger out and commit to that like any business".

"You have to scale up or scale down and this is one time they need to scale up to keep everything in perspective."

Money needed to be used "to keep their systems up-to-date and modernise it to the era we are in", he said. Consent delays and missing deadlines had huge impacts.

"You imagine not getting a resource consent for a $30 or $40 million project, if it's delayed for months."

Master Builders Association Tauranga president Johnny Calley said it was a huge issue for the industry and a big challenge.

Delays cost builders and homeowners money, he said. He hoped the council would be more proactive and listen.

Carrus general manager Scott Adams said The Lakes subdivision was fully consented apart from variations and he welcomed the online services, which "are well overdue".

Venture Developments director Mark Fraser-Jones said it was "fantastic," that the council had decided to inject extra resources to process consents faster.

"The growth of Tauranga is important across every sector as the flow-on effects from the construction of new dwellings serve to benefit the whole community."

Tauranga mayor Stuart Crosby acknowledged the council struggled to deliver consents within 20 days in 2015. However, there had been some poor plans submitted.

It took responsibility for not processing some on time, he said, but it was not going to apologise for being robust on compliance because the activity "is a big risk to the council and ratepayers when things go wrong like leaky homes".

Tauranga City Council acting environmental services general manager Natalie Rutland said it had an online consent application portal that started last September and five group builders were submitting to it.

A strategic project was approved in 2015 to upgrade the council's regulatory, land and customer systems.

It would start in February and run for about 14 months.

"Project outcomes include the introduction of digital capabilities to enable the council to deliver mobile-friendly online services. Customers will then be able to choose to transact with the council - without constraint of time or location.

"The scope of the project encompasses online building consents and resource consents."

It anticipated by 2017 the majority of building and consent services would be online, she said.

Salaries and resources were funded by user fees and charges, she said, and was conservatively predicted to be $4.8m for 2015/16.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 25 Jan 2017 05:40:07 Processing Time: 269ms