John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga council's budget blowout hits $7m

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The Elizabeth St car park. Photo/File
The Elizabeth St car park. Photo/File

Tauranga City Council will overspend its budgets by $7 million this year, with the Elizabeth St carpark building extension soaking up more than half the money.

The $4.1 million cost to add an extra storey could increase further after Councillor Bill Grainger revealed the eastern wall of the building would need seismic strengthening. He asked whether the work was included in the $4.1 million.

The council's strategy group general manager Christine Jones told yesterday's meeting that the report into overspending was written before the seismic issue was known. "This issue only arose last week."

She said the figures for the strengthening had not come through.

Efforts by the Bay of Plenty Times to obtain further information yesterday on the seismic upgrade were unsuccessful, with the council saying it would reply to questions as soon as it was able.

Details of the council's projected $7 million overspend to June 30 included another seismic issue uncovered during repairs to convert the old Mount Cosmopolitan Club into the High Performance Sports Centre.

Resolving seismic issues added $150,000 to the $977,000 of building upgrade costs born by the council for the Bay Venues initiative.

Another disclosure yesterday was that the council was forced to spend $490,000 fitting new water filtration membranes to the Oropi water treatment works.

The existing micro-filtration units were failing and would have left Tauranga with a water shortage last summer if chief executive Garry Poole had not acted under urgency to approve the replacement membranes.

The $4.1 million parking building extension joined four other unbudgeted capital works needing to be funded by loans totalling $5.4 million. Council financial controller Kathryn Sharplin said part of the parking building cost was offset by the $2.7 million decision to defer construction of a carpark building at the northern end of the CBD.

Another overspend authorised by Mr Poole was to raise a $188,000 loan to demolish the former Foodbank building in Dive Cres. Councillors were told the unbudgeted spending was due to the discovery of asbestos and "other building-related issues". The second biggest overspend was $691,000 for a stormwater pond at Pyes Pa West. Land purchase costs were expected to exceed budget by $145,000 and design and construction costs were over budget by $450,000.

Another big overspend was $594,000 to design and build a major stormwater pond at Wairakei in Papamoa. As the design of the pond progressed, the stormwater requirements had became more complex.

New furniture for staff relocated out of the leaking and mouldy Civic Building complex cost $235,000 more than the full-year budget of $15,000. The furniture was particularly needed for the expanded building services team, with costs including the fitout of office space in temporary offices in Devonport Rd.

The purchase of seven vehicles for building inspectors hired to cope with city growth issues added $196,000 to budgets. They were loan-funded from the council's building division fees and charges.

Resolving the appeal against the plan to build a Wairakei Stream overflow into the Kaituna River went longer than expected and ended up costing an additional $190,000.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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