Napier's proposed $41.3 million aquatic centre has jumped one of the final hurdles barring its way, but a few bumps in the road are still to come.

The new pool is the most expensive capital project Napier City Council has ever undertaken.

Faye White, standing in as acting mayor as Bill Dalton recovers from a stroke, had the casting vote at a council meeting on Tuesday after a 6-6 split among councillors.


White said she felt it was the best decision for the community.

She said having a casting vote was simply something in the council's standing orders (in other words, the council's rule book).

"You probably wouldn't want to be using it all the time because then you've got a rather split council, and one would always prefer to have more than 50-50 split," she said.

A site map of the new pool. Photo / Supplied
A site map of the new pool. Photo / Supplied

"But this project has been debated, talked about, it's been around for over five years, that we've needed it.

"For me ... this is not a today project, this is something the community can be proud of for the next 30, 40 years, it's generational."

She said she heard the financial concerns coming from members of the community and other councillors.

"We have in the budget $41.3m, and I would not like to see it hitting $50m, it would just not be an option for me."

She said the council's audit and risk committee, and Audit New Zealand, had both reviewed the project.


"We have probably been one of the most fiscally well balanced councils throughout New Zealand.

"The best thing that can happen is the community get behind it and we really do create something they are all very proud of in the future."

One of the councillors who voted against the decision, Maxine Boag, said she was disappointed but not surprised by Tuesday's decision.

She said democracy is a numbers game, and on the day, those opposing the pool did not have the numbers.

She said in particular she was concerned about the affordability of the project.

A lot of people in Napier were not well off, or they lived on a fixed income, and would not be able to afford a steep rates increase.

The council still needs to approve the tender once it returns to the council, most likely in July.

A floor plan of the new complex, which is based of the new QEII pool in Christchurch. Photo / Supplied
A floor plan of the new complex, which is based of the new QEII pool in Christchurch. Photo / Supplied

Boag said it was too early to say which way she would vote, but her decision would be based on what she heard from the community.

Until then, she said there was not much those opposing the pool could do.

The Napier City Council's chief executive, Wayne Jack, said the election would not affect the council's ability to vote on the tender when it comes back.

"Council making decisions on a major issue three months before an election is an unwritten convention," Jack said.

"The council has a three-year mandate to govern and is not bound by the caretaker convention during the pre-election period.

"The Office of the Auditor General has noted councillors are still in office during the election campaign and remain responsible for the activities of the organisation."

He said the council did try to manage major decisions, but with the pool the major decisions had been made already.

Why acting mayor Faye White had two votes on the Napier Aquatic Centre:

With only 12 councillors at the table on Tuesday, the vote ended in a 6-6 split. As a result, White got a second vote.

Every councillor gets one vote, officially called a deliberative vote. At the Napier City Council, standing orders state that in a situation where there is a split of the vote, the chair gets a second vote, officially called a casting vote.

In the Local Government Act, it states chairs do not get a second vote, and split votes mean the decision does not pass, unless the council's standing orders say otherwise, as is the case with the Napier City Council.