Decision on ORC space issue delayed

Stephen Woodhead
Stephen Woodhead
While readily admitting it was "crunch time" for overcrowding at the Otago Regional Council's headquarters, councillors yesterday delayed a decision about it for another six weeks.

The decision was deferred because councillors believed they could not decide about easing overcrowding in the short term until they had a long-term plan for handling the problem.

Some councillors expressed frustration at the lack of a decision, given how "time keeps rolling on".

"We cannot, around this table, make a decision on this," chairman Stephen Woodhead said.

It was likely to take four years before a permanent solution was ready, and the council was already facing a 194sq m shortfall in space, he said.

After visiting the lower floors of the building recently, Cr Louise Croot said the council "had a man-made hazard in this building".

"Staff are at risk. We have dilly-dallied too long."

Cr Duncan Butcher said the council had been looking at the issue for seven years and had procrastinated since the decision to park the waterfront building was made two years ago.

"We've licked our wounds and sat on our hands while the staff situation is getting much worse."

However, he was not prepared to commit $400,000 to a temporary council chamber - an option presented to the council yesterday - without knowing what the council planned to do long-term.

He suggested the council needed to make a decision at its October meeting about whether it was going to look at a new building off-site or do something with its Stafford St site. That decision would then affect what short-term solution the council decided upon, he said.

"$400,000 for a home for council for four to five years does not seem like a good deal to me."

Mr Woodhead warned all the council could do in October was decide to include an option in the long-term plan to be consulted on early next year.

Cr Bryan Scott said it would be difficult to make a decision next month without estimated costs for whatever options were being considered.

Chief executive Graeme Martin said it would be difficult to do that before February, and costs would vary greatly depending on the options.

Cr Trevor Kempton said the council needed to "bite the bullet" and take its council meetings off-site in the meantime, because of the time it would take to organise any short- or long-term measures.

After deferring a decision on short-term measures, councillors asked Mr Woodhead to bring a report to their October meeting outlining long-term options, with a view to then looking again at the short-term options.



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