Nationwide infrastructure cost increases are affecting local councils too, with Ngatea now set for a smaller new service centre and modern library at some $2.5 million rather than upgrading its current building for $1 million more.
The building will be smaller than its Waihi and Paeroa library counterparts and is $1.2 million over its initial budget in the draft long-term plan due to what staff say are escalating build costs.
Although plans are still at conceptual stage, it would be some 380 sq m compared with the current 718 sq m building.
The debate over the building was a hot topic in the town, garnering extensive community feedback including a petition that was signed by more than 1200 people.
Hauraki District Council has opted for a complete new build rather than attempt to achieve modern library standards (LIANZA) and meet community needs with the old building.
A major renovation and resolving risk of liquefaction, earthquake strengthening, asbestos removal and meeting modern accessibility and fire safety standards was an estimated $4500-$5500 per sq m totalling $3.5 million.
This compared with a new custom-fit build at an estimated $6000 a sq m for $2.5 million.
"Originally we intended to ask the community for feedback on both options but the more we discussed the challenges and opportunities on the table, the clearer it became that there was really only one option," said Mayor Toby Adams.
What was most important to Ngatea's community and how the new services would look was captured in a community book to guide plans.
The community expected similar to the Paeroa and Waihi libraries, but council staff said the $1.3 million budget had been included in the LTP for some time "without consideration for escalations".
The larger site in the reserve would require more site works to complete the project,
whereas for both Waihi and Paeroa this was a minor cost.
Mayor Adams said the cost of continuing to investigate both options would quickly escalate when it was already clear it would be more feasible to start afresh.
The council had paid for some initial architectural concept designs but would not consult on both options.
"The life expectancy of the new building will be at least 50 years, and starting afresh will allow us to position the building in a way that makes the most of the current Hugh Hayward Domain location."
Working party feedback said the proposed new build design had looked "nondescript", and it didn't reflect the personality or feel of the town and sought a more rustic, farming and pioneering theme.
Mayor Adams said the old building held some importance to the community but the council needed to be realistic about its financial responsibility to its ratepayers.
"There are just too many unknowns with the old building.
"It makes much better financial sense to invest money in a new purpose-built building than it does to spend money on investigating an option that may not even be feasible at the end of the day.
"We also don't know what's hidden within the walls until we start renovating," the mayor said.
Costs for upgrading did not include interior furnishings, shelves, data or network cabling. While the council previously resolved to provide 80 per cent of the LIANZA (library) standard, which equates to a total library area for Ngatea of 220 sq m, the current budget allowed for in the draft LTP for 2021-22 is $1.3 million.
The Ngatea Library and Service Centre working party will refine the design and working party chairman and Deputy Mayor Paul Milner says the community would be asked what to include in the new building.
"We know this is going to be much more than a library and we're excited about bringing the community's vision for a welcoming, modern, multi-purpose community space to life," Milner said.
Comparative cost and size of Library Upgrades
Waihi: Built 2013, 540 sq m. Cost at build $1,680,000
Paeroa: Built 2016, 455 sq m. Cost at build $1,570,000