Extra costs of spending a public penny

Vandalism and other ‘‘unscheduled cleaning and repairing’’ of public toilets cost Gisborne District Council $188,000 in the last financial year.

The figures were included in the council’s draft public convenience plan, which the community development and services committee have approved for public consultation.

Shannon Dowsing said a “big stand-out” was the high cost of unscheduled maintenance at $188,000.

There would be more benefit in controlling public conveniences operating expenditure rather than capital expenditure, he said.

GDC contracts and asset manager Garrett Blair said vandalism was a tough issue and resulted in unscheduled costs.

The Sponge Bay toilet, which had been set on fire, cost $72,000 to repair.

Mr Dowsing questioned the estimated $50,000 cost (in the 2021-2031 long-term plan) for assessing the network of public conveniences for service, standards and demand.

“Do we not have that intelligence inhouse already?”

Mr Blair said the intention was to “go further than we have in the past’’.

There were New Zealand standards for the assessment of public conveniences and there was no comprehensive maintenance and renewal programme.

Mr Dowsing said he assumed there were already standards and another $25,000 had been budgeted for the development of public conveniences.

Committee chairman Andy Cranston said he had recently checked rural public toilets and was impressed, but he had concerns about city toilets.

He suggested that public conveniences be scheduled for “spring cleaning’’ every six months in addition to ongoing maintenance.

Bill Burdett said the toilets at Hicks Bay Wharf were marvellous although it had taken years to get them.

The draft plan says the key issues are:

n The affordability of toilets (operational cost were often exceeded by unscheduled cleaning and repairing).

n Ageing facilities. (Nearly half of public toilets were built before the Building Act (1991 and 2004) and 75 percent were substandard. Residents rate conveniences lower than all other community facilities.

n Appropriate locations. Conveniences are not always located in the right place and levels of service can differ across the network.

The draft plan said there were 75 public conveniences in the district — 31 in the city, 26 rural and another 18 which could be opened to support public events.

The facilities were worth $3.1 million excluding land.

An increasing population, forecast to go up by 9.07 percent over 25 years, and growing visitor numbers would impact on the demand for public conveniences.

The committee extended the public consultation period to January 31, rather than the original date of December 31, because of the holiday season.

Pat Seymour said the public required more time while Mr Cranston said council had been criticised before for similarly scheduled consultation deadlines.

Vandalism and other ‘‘unscheduled cleaning and repairing’’ of public toilets cost Gisborne District Council $188,000 in the last financial year.

The figures were included in the council’s draft public convenience plan, which the community development and services committee have approved for public consultation.

Shannon Dowsing said a “big stand-out” was the high cost of unscheduled maintenance at $188,000.

There would be more benefit in controlling public conveniences operating expenditure rather than capital expenditure, he said.

GDC contracts and asset manager Garrett Blair said vandalism was a tough issue and resulted in unscheduled costs.

The Sponge Bay toilet, which had been set on fire, cost $72,000 to repair.

Mr Dowsing questioned the estimated $50,000 cost (in the 2021-2031 long-term plan) for assessing the network of public conveniences for service, standards and demand.

“Do we not have that intelligence inhouse already?”

Mr Blair said the intention was to “go further than we have in the past’’.

There were New Zealand standards for the assessment of public conveniences and there was no comprehensive maintenance and renewal programme.

Mr Dowsing said he assumed there were already standards and another $25,000 had been budgeted for the development of public conveniences.

Committee chairman Andy Cranston said he had recently checked rural public toilets and was impressed, but he had concerns about city toilets.

He suggested that public conveniences be scheduled for “spring cleaning’’ every six months in addition to ongoing maintenance.

Bill Burdett said the toilets at Hicks Bay Wharf were marvellous although it had taken years to get them.

The draft plan says the key issues are:

n The affordability of toilets (operational cost were often exceeded by unscheduled cleaning and repairing).

n Ageing facilities. (Nearly half of public toilets were built before the Building Act (1991 and 2004) and 75 percent were substandard. Residents rate conveniences lower than all other community facilities.

n Appropriate locations. Conveniences are not always located in the right place and levels of service can differ across the network.

The draft plan said there were 75 public conveniences in the district — 31 in the city, 26 rural and another 18 which could be opened to support public events.

The facilities were worth $3.1 million excluding land.

An increasing population, forecast to go up by 9.07 percent over 25 years, and growing visitor numbers would impact on the demand for public conveniences.

The committee extended the public consultation period to January 31, rather than the original date of December 31, because of the holiday season.

Pat Seymour said the public required more time while Mr Cranston said council had been criticised before for similarly scheduled consultation deadlines.

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