Upgrade or New Building?

Donaldson Accuses KCDC of Deception Over Civic HQ

Campaigner Helen Donaldson has accused the Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC) of deception over the Civic Building upgrade.

She says this is not a ‘renovation and upgrade’ project, but virtually a new building.

Ms Donaldson, who stood unsuccessfully for ‘One Kāpiti’ in the last local elections, says:

“Despite ratepayers being told — via the LTCCP (Long-term Community Plan), Council media releases and notices at the site that this is a renovation and upgrade project — it is in fact a near total demolition and rebuild. 

“There is very little of the original building left standing, and the construction vehicles on site are demolition company vehicles.”

‘Nearly completely demolished’

Ms Donaldson, who works in a senior post in a Government SOE, says if people walk past the Civic Building construction site they will see it is nearly completely demolished.

She adds: “How to give yourself a brand new building! Put it in LTCCP as a council building upgrade, double the price of it between 2009 and 2011, add some extra funding last December 11 and hey presto!

“Many of us commented that for the amount being spent on it you could build a new building rather than merely upgrade the existing and guess what – they are! “

$6 million project

In December, the Council decided by unanimous vote to award the re-build to Armstrong Downes Ltd for the total contract sum of $6.055 million.  In addition, Council approved about $1 million of other town centre projects.

Tenders for the upgrade were higher than expected. The two lowest priced contractors were asked to review their tenders to cut costs. Armstrong Downes submitted the lowest tender price at $5.55 million. This included savings of $288,000.

The $5.55 million figure was $340,000 over the expected cost — and in addition a ‘contingency sum’ of $500,000 was included to cover unforeseen items, documentation omissions or errors, or adjustments required to the design. This pushed the total construction cost to $6.055 million.
‘Little wonder’ there are cost increases

But Ms Donaldson says: “Walking past the Council civic building construction site, it is little wonder that there have been substantial increases in costs for this project.

“The change in scope of this project should surely have raised serious questions from our elected representatives to council management:  Given that it is a virtual rebuild of the building, were there other options such as building a new building on another site and selling or leasing out the existing building?

“Should the project have been re-tendered as a total rebuild and were there any local contractors who could have built a new building for less or similar cost? Could the project be deferred to limit rates increases in the current economic climate?

“I realise the short answer to question 3 will be that Council needs to provide disability access as an urgent priority and I agree with this. However, this leads to another question of management: as Council has leased the new building next to the civic building, could the Council and Mayoral chambers not have been relocated to the ground floor of this building, providing immediate disability access and more space in the existing building for staff?

“Where are the hard questions from Councillors on behalf of the people who elected them?”




I too am horrified to see the extent of the demolition of this ratepayer owned building.

Who ever in Councils PR team chose to use the word “refurbishment” deserves a medal for the biggest deceit yet.”

Can we ask the Hon Nick Smith for an urgent stopwork order on the project. THIS WEEK!
Remove the debris and seal up the site until we know the outcome of debate to amalgamate Councils. We may have a hugely reduced staff out here and no Mayor and Council and may not need to replace this building.

We certainly don’t need to burden Kapiti Ratepayers for the next 20 years with $8m debt incurred by unnecessary spending.

Rowan and Dougherty have pulled down their Ivory Tower, I for one am loathe to pay for them to build another one.

I’m wondering when it will be that council come back and say to ratepayers “Oops sorry. This project will cost you more!”
This Mayor has been a disaster for our community. Cost blow outs, poor handling of major issues causing deep rooted divisiveness, massive un-budgeted for expenditure etc.
A Mayor who called for everyone to be compelled to donate their power rebates into a community chest at a time when many are on reduced fixed incomes then went on and ”reluctantly” accepted a salary increase. I was waiting for her to show her charitable conviction by leading by example and donating that increase to start her charitable trust.
But no. She’s carried on and cost ratepayers and businesses much more.