As budgets are cut and rates go up, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is planning to move into a swanky new office, complete with kitchenette, a new shower and a computer-controlled lighting system.
Wellington City Council is hoping to begin construction in May on a new mayoral suite for Ms Wade-Brown, and office space for her deputy and staff, who have to move in August when earthquake-strengthening work begins on the council building in Wakefield St.
The refit, which has a maximum budget of $350,000, comes as the council looks to trim its spending to limit a rates increase to 2.8 per cent. Suggestions for savings have included the introduction of pay and display parking at the Botanic Gardens and Freyberg Pool.
Wellington Zoo and Positively Wellington Tourism have had their budgets cut, hours at suburban libraries have been reduced, and councillors have been forced to give up their free lunches to save $40,000.
The new suite will be on level four of the central library, and the work will include a complete refit of the existing office space to "a very high-quality finish, befitting the civic and ceremonial status of the mayor", a tender for the work says.
And fittingly for a green mayor, the piece de resistance will be an eco-friendly lighting system controlled by a computer.
Built using recyclable materials, it will use less electricity than normal office lighting and "splashes a cheerful wash of light over walls and ceilings, creating work spaces that are comfortable and inspiring".
Councillor John Morrison said he had no idea about the plans. Although he believed the mayor needed quality offices, it seemed extravagant considering the cuts the council had been making.
"To be quite honest, I didn't even know it's happening, but I have to say I don't toss and turn worrying where Celia is.
"I think the first thing is councillors don't even know about it. It seems a little hypocritical to cut lunches out . . . and then turn around and spend $350,000 without telling us."
Most of the existing office space above the library will be demolished, with as much material as possible salvaged. Furniture from the current mayoral chambers, which also has a shower, in Wakefield St will be moved to the new space when work finishes.
Level four of the library is the home to four council housing staff, who will be relocated.
Wellington City Council earthquake resilience manager Neville Brown said money for the refit had been allocated in funding for the strengthening work, and should be finished by late July.
No other options were considered, as it was deemed important for the mayor to stay within the "civic campus", he said.
In three years, when strengthening work in Wakefield St was finished, the mayor would move back, but there were no plans for what would happen to her temporary home.
"Three years is a long time in local government. We have no idea at all."
Ms Wade-Brown was too busy to talk about her new office, but said in a statement that she and her staff had been fully involved in the planning decisions and were "happy" with the outcome.
An appropriate reception area for local and overseas visitors had been a main priority, she said.
THE NEW PAD
- A computer-controlled energy-efficient lighting system.
- A new kitchenette, including a dishwasher.
- Upgraded men's and women's toilet blocks, including a new shower for the mayor.
- New carpet.
- New ceiling tiles.
- Refurbished lifts.
- A new security system. A new colour scheme.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can inner city residents reasonably expect a bit of peace and quiet?Related story: Quest for quieter city life 'frustrating'