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Councillor questions half million dollars for new toilet and kiosk in Hutt park

costly-toilet

News from Hutt Cr Campbell Barry on Facebook
Is the toilet and kiosk next door to the Hutt City Council worth over half a million dollars?

As a Councillor, one role I take really seriously is scrutinising spending, to ensure that we as a City get best value for ratepayers’ money.

Recently I asked questions about the pavilion (toilet) installed in the Riddiford Gardens.

This is part of a $9.8m project to redevelop the gardens which are around the Council’s Administration Building on Laings Road.

After getting a response, I was shocked to learn the pavilion cost was a total of $520,000. $260k for the toilet, and $260k for the wider site, which included hiding a power substation, and installing a large bench with two public BBQs (kiosk).

To add to this cost, since its installation in March 2017, at least $10,000 has been spent on maintenance issues mainly due to problems with the toilet doors.

In the past I’ve been critical of the continuous increases in spending for this project. The budget originally sat at $5m in 2014, it increased to $8.5m in 2016, and finally rested at $9.8m. Finding out new details about these project costs raise a lot more questions for me about how spending has been considered and approved.

The project has a working group which includes Councillors, council staff and contractors. They sign off spending within the project, and this would have included the toilet and kiosk.

While I acknowledge the significant amount of time and effort given by the members of this group, I suspect that if they were spending their own money, we would have had a very different result.

Further to this, the project working group also dipped into another pot of money dedicated to toilet maintenance across the city. This was to fund $260k of the cost. Which in effect means funds dedicated to communities desperately needing an upgrade of their facilities miss out.

For example, currently people are using a shipping container to get changed at Naenae Park because their toilet and changing facilities are inhabitable. Taking money from maintenance budgets for grandiose projects like the Riddiford Gardens means that the use of a shipping container will sadly continue into the future.

By doing this, it also means that we don’t know the total cost of the project as a whole. The $260k is above and beyond the $9.8m allocated to the project. I’ve asked for more information on this, and will be pushing for more transparency.

I’ve raised some of these issues in the past. I hope by bringing this spending and use of maintenance budgets under the spotlight, we can learn from it and make better decisions with ratepayers money in the future.

What do you think? What would you spend half a million on?

4 comments:

  1. Andy Mellon, 20. March 2018, 20:44

    Not the only thing that ratepayer money’s being wasted on in the Hutt. Land for hotels, the riverside promenade, investigations into the CVL. And at the same time, our rates bills have been rising well above inflation. I’m glad to hear questions are being asked. More questions need to be raised about this wastage.

     
  2. Farmer John, 20. March 2018, 22:41

    Andy – and wait there’s more! GWRC will be adding ‘unforeseen’ flood protection to your total rates bill. Up 7% or thereabouts.

     
  3. glenn, 21. March 2018, 7:10

    I wouldn’t have thought a cross valley link was a waste of money; sooner it’s built the better.

     
  4. Andy Mellon, 23. March 2018, 20:53

    Glenn – getting Eastern Hutt traffic to merge with Hutt Road and Maungaraki traffic further away from the main destination (Wellington) makes absolutely no logical sense.

    A rebuilt Petone junction would do the job without having to slice the City in two.

    We should be getting traffic off the roads not encouraging more onto them.