Council disputes rental blowout, rebuild claims

Figures misinterpreted, misrepresented: chief.

Figures misinterpreted, misrepresented: chief.

REBUILD REVIEW: Gisborne District Council earlier released an artist’s impression of how the new administration centre might look, but “not everything we might want is affordable”, said council chief executive Judy Campbell. Picture supplied

CITY ward candidate Shannon Dowsing and mayoral candidate Tony Robinson claimed today that Gisborne District Council’s administration block replacement will be too small and that there has been a blowout in rentals for the temporary accommodation for council staff.

GDC chief executive Judy Campbell and a statement from council management disputed both claims.

Mr Dowsing says the building is too small to fit all the staff comfortably but that this also presents opportunities for space-saving measures and the adoption of new work practices. A column by him is on page 13 of today’s paper along with a response from Mrs Campbell.

Mr Dowsing says the proposed building shows a density of around 9.2 square metres if all 223 desks inside are filled, which is well below central government guidelines of 12-16 square metres.

If these “ideal working conditions” were to be achieved it would require a rethink, and fortunately the nature of the council’s business dictated that many staff were outside the premises for a good percentage of the day. Modern office work-from-home practices also allowed for 20 percent of staff to be absent.

Mrs Campbell says the figures he has used for floor space are incorrect and that the real figures are 11.2 to 14 square metres. She believes staff and architects have come up with an appropriate balance and a modern office building that will meet community needs for 50 years.

Mr Dowsing stands by his figures and workings. So far all the figures he had heard from the council and new building owner GHL were calculated on total footprint. That was not the correct way to calculate as reception, foyers, corridors, utility space and exclusive areas like the council chambers should be excluded.

Reduce public gallery

He suggests the council reduce the size of the public gallery, saying there are usually less than a dozen people viewing and many of these are council staff.

At his retirement function last month, long-serving soil conservation officer Trevor Freeman said he had a health issue and the cramped office space in the new building was “not for me”.

Mr Robinson says he is extremely disappointed that the office rental has already blown out to $1.6 million for the current financial year, which is 42 percent above the $1.25m approved by the council in November.

With GST the $1.6m figure becomes $1.8m, says Mr Robinson.

He is quoting figures he obtained this week through a LGOIMA (Local Government Official Information Act) request.

Council criticism

When Rick Thorpe and others predicted the costs would be more like $1.5m this year they were criticised and ridiculed by some councillors, says Mr Robinson.

The 2016 GHL Statement of Intent only budgeted, under commercial property rental, for $651,000 for 2016-17 and $855,000 for 2017-18.

“I hear the final negotiation that would have settled on this increase was just between Gisborne Holdings Ltd, the mayor and chief executive.”

A statement from GDC management said figures supplied in the past through the proper channels have been either misinterpreted or purposely misrepresented.

The $1.25m for this financial year figure quoted by Mr Robinson was for only the Fitzherbert Street office and the temporary office accommodation.

“In the 2017 financial year the council will pay GHL a total of $1.6m for the lease and operating costs (rates, power) for all the municipal buildings and other sites, the Banks St office, BNZ building for Tairawhiti Roads, Dunstan Road dog pound, Te Puia office, Fitzherbert St office and temporary accommodation at the Emerald, 39 Gladstone Rd, The Works and Kahutia St.”

Mr Robinson said his question was what was the annual rent that GDC would pay to GHL for the next five years. The only buildings owned by GDC on the list were Fitzherbert Street and Te Puia.

He wanted a simple answer to a simple question.

CITY ward candidate Shannon Dowsing and mayoral candidate Tony Robinson claimed today that Gisborne District Council’s administration block replacement will be too small and that there has been a blowout in rentals for the temporary accommodation for council staff.

GDC chief executive Judy Campbell and a statement from council management disputed both claims.

Mr Dowsing says the building is too small to fit all the staff comfortably but that this also presents opportunities for space-saving measures and the adoption of new work practices. A column by him is on page 13 of today’s paper along with a response from Mrs Campbell.

Mr Dowsing says the proposed building shows a density of around 9.2 square metres if all 223 desks inside are filled, which is well below central government guidelines of 12-16 square metres.

If these “ideal working conditions” were to be achieved it would require a rethink, and fortunately the nature of the council’s business dictated that many staff were outside the premises for a good percentage of the day. Modern office work-from-home practices also allowed for 20 percent of staff to be absent.

Mrs Campbell says the figures he has used for floor space are incorrect and that the real figures are 11.2 to 14 square metres. She believes staff and architects have come up with an appropriate balance and a modern office building that will meet community needs for 50 years.

Mr Dowsing stands by his figures and workings. So far all the figures he had heard from the council and new building owner GHL were calculated on total footprint. That was not the correct way to calculate as reception, foyers, corridors, utility space and exclusive areas like the council chambers should be excluded.

Reduce public gallery

He suggests the council reduce the size of the public gallery, saying there are usually less than a dozen people viewing and many of these are council staff.

At his retirement function last month, long-serving soil conservation officer Trevor Freeman said he had a health issue and the cramped office space in the new building was “not for me”.

Mr Robinson says he is extremely disappointed that the office rental has already blown out to $1.6 million for the current financial year, which is 42 percent above the $1.25m approved by the council in November.

With GST the $1.6m figure becomes $1.8m, says Mr Robinson.

He is quoting figures he obtained this week through a LGOIMA (Local Government Official Information Act) request.

Council criticism

When Rick Thorpe and others predicted the costs would be more like $1.5m this year they were criticised and ridiculed by some councillors, says Mr Robinson.

The 2016 GHL Statement of Intent only budgeted, under commercial property rental, for $651,000 for 2016-17 and $855,000 for 2017-18.

“I hear the final negotiation that would have settled on this increase was just between Gisborne Holdings Ltd, the mayor and chief executive.”

A statement from GDC management said figures supplied in the past through the proper channels have been either misinterpreted or purposely misrepresented.

The $1.25m for this financial year figure quoted by Mr Robinson was for only the Fitzherbert Street office and the temporary office accommodation.

“In the 2017 financial year the council will pay GHL a total of $1.6m for the lease and operating costs (rates, power) for all the municipal buildings and other sites, the Banks St office, BNZ building for Tairawhiti Roads, Dunstan Road dog pound, Te Puia office, Fitzherbert St office and temporary accommodation at the Emerald, 39 Gladstone Rd, The Works and Kahutia St.”

Mr Robinson said his question was what was the annual rent that GDC would pay to GHL for the next five years. The only buildings owned by GDC on the list were Fitzherbert Street and Te Puia.

He wanted a simple answer to a simple question.

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Shannon Dowsing - 3 years ago
For those interested in the technical side of my article, below are quotes from the MBIE guidelines and clarification of how I reached my figures. I stand by my article's initial assessment.
MBIE guidelines - "Occupancy density (m2) is calculated as: NLA (m2)/ headcount accommodated (count)" and "occupancy density goal of between 12m2 and 16m2 per FTE"
The NLA consists of all offices and common areas like kitchens and bathrooms available to the staff. It does not include space used by utilities, public areas such as foyers and the public entrance, or dedicated use areas like council chambers. To calculate this I have subtracted Council Chambers and associated offices (385m2) reception and public space, plus storage (294sqm), and circulation and services (538sqm) from the building total of 3260m2. This gives a NLA of 2043m2. Divide 2043 by 223 (the number of workstations) and you get 9.16m2.
MBIE guidelines - "Ideally senior management should sit in the open-plan environment in the same configuration as other staff. Where this is not practical, chief executives' areas will need to be provisioned on an agency by agency basis. Second tier senior management immediate work areas should not exceed 15m2 and third tier senior management immediate work areas should not exceed 10m2."
Whilst this leaves the size of the chief executive's office open for discussion perhaps the 25m2 planned is a bit excessive given it is nearly three times the allocation of regular staff.

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