Debate Council Building Repair Blowout In Public

Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas wants the key issues related to the reported $31m blow-out in its headquarters building repair debated in public.

The Orakei Local Board member has written to the Council Chief Executive to ask him to have officers provide a public update to councillors on the issues at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting.

“Reports that a $4m repair bill have blown-out to $31m are deeply concerning. Many people have raised this with me at functions and activities I have been at this weekend.”

“Council doesn’t help itself when it tries to bury these debates in private. If we make a mistake we should own up to it.”

“There is no reason why a discussion on why this has happened and what the next steps are can’t be had in public and that’s what I have asked for.

“If there are any genuinely confidential issues or information, these could be excluded from the public discussion. This regularly happens at council meetings.”

But Thomas says council’s focus has to be on reassuring the public that it is on top of this problem, as well as explaining what has failed in council’s purchasing decision.

“The public has a right to know what other options are being considered before ratepayers fork out 25% more again than the original purchase price.”

“I would expect staff to advise what action should be considered against the previous owner. Staff should also address the quality of the due diligence work undertaken before council acquired the building.”

“There are three key steps officers should be considering:

1) How robust is the advice about the state of the building?
2) What are the range of repair options and what contribution can council try and seek from the previous owner?
3) What other options exist? eg. building sale

“Ratepayers are staring down the barrel of a multi-million repair bill and council staff who work in the building will be concerned to. This issue should be debated in public.”

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