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MEDIA RELEASE – 03 MARCH 2020 - Bulls Community Centre

Additional Funding for the Bulls Community Centre

March 04, 2020

At the Council meeting on Thursday, 27 February 2020 Council was presented with a revised budget for the Bulls Community Centre development, as requested by Council. In late 2019, Chief Executive Mr Peter Beggs had paused the project to allow a full review of costs, schedule and progress.

This review highlighted increased costs in some areas of the project. While the Council was pleased to hear that the construction cost of the build was close to budget, they were advised that professional fees, building consent costs, furniture and fit-out costs had either not previously been included within the overall project budget, or had increased. There were also additional costs incurred as a result of changes in requirements during construction – these include the requirement for a power transformer (ensuring there was adequate power capacity to enable core services for the site and the surrounding area); installation of a water tank at the rear of the building (as the town supply would not be sufficient in a fire-fighting capacity); a larger area of land required to ensure bus lanes and car parking were safe and appropriate. These additions caused time delays, due to re-design requirements and the purchase of the power transformer and water tank.

To meet these costs an increase of $2,044,913 was requested and subsequently approved by Council, bringing the updated forecast project cost to $8,284,113, to be debt funded. Council were also presented with future enhancements to the project that will be considered at a future meeting.

Building construction is expected to be completed in April 2020, followed by a period of internal fit-out, including relocating Bulls Library to the new building. The building is expected to be open to the public in July/August 2020.

Mayor Andy Watson said both he and Chief Executive Peter Beggs expected full transparency of the total cost of the project so Council and the public were fully aware of what the cost of the Bulls Community Centre would be - “The increase is absolutely necessary to ensure we have a high quality, safe, fit-for-purpose facility for now and future generations to use.”

Mayor Andy Watson said “I want to thank the Bulls community, they had a target to raise $150,000, to date $115,000 has been donated, and with the proceeds from the sale of the Walton Street community house (provisionally $237,000), the funding has doubled from what the community committed to raise. We had expected to receive funding from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) as we thought we had a good case, I am disappointed that this project was declined funding.”

External funding for the project secured to date includes NZ Lottery Grants Board ($500k), Regional/local trusts (Dudding Trust - $200k and Whanganui Community Foundation - $300k) and local community funding (provisionally $352,000).

Properties identified as surplus are yet to be put on the market, all indications are that these properties are expected to sell for significantly more than originally budgeted for.

Mayor Andy Watson said, “As part of ensuring the public fully understands this project I will hold a public meeting in the Bulls Town Hall on Thursday, 12 March 2020 at 6pm to answer any questions about this project and other matters the Bulls community want to hear about.”