Decision 6 - Funding the Central Library rebuild

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Consultation has concluded

We have decided on how we will strengthen the Central Library, now we are seeking feedback on how to fund the upgrade.


What's the background to this decision?

Wellington’s much-loved Central Library was closed in March 2019 following an engineering assessment saying that the way the floor was designed presented a high level of potential failure in a significant earthquake. It has a similar floor design to one used in the now demolished Statistics House, where a floor collapsed in the Kaikoura earthquakes.

In 2020, we ran a six-week consultation in which we asked for public feedback on five options for restoring a Central Library service in Te Ngākau Civic Square. The options all considered the resilience of the building, future proofing the library service, the connection to Te Ngākau, and the overall costs.

After consulting with Wellingtonians Council agreed to recommend the high-level remediation option to be part of this plan. This option, repairs the building’s structural issues to the highest extent possible. It will integrate with Te Ngākau Civic Square and the surrounding streets. It also allows us to mitigate some climate change impacts in the future.

We are now seeking feedback on how and when the upgrade should be funded.

There are three options

Option 1:
Strengthen now by temporarily exceeding the debt limit (preferred)

Option 2:
Council to strengthen Central Library later

Option 3:
Strengthen now by increasing rates further

This option repairs the building’s structural issues to the highest extent possible. It includes base isolating the building. Base isolation means the building would likely be safe to occupy during and after a significant earthquake.

The building’s heritage value will be retained, and it will integrate more with Te Ngākau Civic Precinct.

In this option our debt level will remain at 225%, but Council has agreed to accept the breach in the first three years of this plan to enable to project to be completed. This breach will be mitigated by any capital not spent being used for the library project rather than on new projects. Our debt level will be back below our limit by year 4 – 2024/25

This option will repair the building’s structural issues in the same manner as in Option 1, however this option does not exceed the Council’s debt limit.

As in Option 1 the full costs of this project will fall to Council, but in this option the project would be delayed until a period of the Long-term Plan when there is sufficient borrowing capacity, for the project to go ahead. This means Council would remain under its debt limit with this option.

In this option the Central Library would reopen in 2028, instead of 2025.


This option will repair the building’s structural issues in the same manner as in Option 1, and allows for the remediation to happen as per the original timeframe (open 2025).

However, this option does include an extra 3% rates increase above the 13.5% in year 1.

The increase in rates will allow the Council to rapidly pay down more of the additional debt that it has taken on
Capital cost and debt impact: $187.4m
Capital cost and debt impact: $195m
Capital cost and debt impact: $187.4m capex cost and $177.1m debt impact
Rates change: 0.79% 3 year average increase
Rates change: 0.83% 3 year average increase
Rates change: 1.79% 3 year average increase


These options have pros and cons, which are outlined in more detail here

Our preferred option

The Council prefers Option 1: Strengthen now by temporarily exceeding the debt limit. This includes the Council agreeing to temporarily breach its debt limit of 225% to ensure the library can be refurbished in the original timeframe and remain in public ownership. Our debt level will remain at 225%, and Council has agreed to accept the breach in the first three years of this plan.


Want to know more about another Decision? Head back to our Long-term Plan homepage or read our full consultation document

Or, are you ready to have your say? Head to our Long-term Plan online submission form

We have decided on how we will strengthen the Central Library, now we are seeking feedback on how to fund the upgrade.


What's the background to this decision?

Wellington’s much-loved Central Library was closed in March 2019 following an engineering assessment saying that the way the floor was designed presented a high level of potential failure in a significant earthquake. It has a similar floor design to one used in the now demolished Statistics House, where a floor collapsed in the Kaikoura earthquakes.

In 2020, we ran a six-week consultation in which we asked for public feedback on five options for restoring a Central Library service in Te Ngākau Civic Square. The options all considered the resilience of the building, future proofing the library service, the connection to Te Ngākau, and the overall costs.

After consulting with Wellingtonians Council agreed to recommend the high-level remediation option to be part of this plan. This option, repairs the building’s structural issues to the highest extent possible. It will integrate with Te Ngākau Civic Square and the surrounding streets. It also allows us to mitigate some climate change impacts in the future.

We are now seeking feedback on how and when the upgrade should be funded.

There are three options

Option 1:
Strengthen now by temporarily exceeding the debt limit (preferred)

Option 2:
Council to strengthen Central Library later

Option 3:
Strengthen now by increasing rates further

This option repairs the building’s structural issues to the highest extent possible. It includes base isolating the building. Base isolation means the building would likely be safe to occupy during and after a significant earthquake.

The building’s heritage value will be retained, and it will integrate more with Te Ngākau Civic Precinct.

In this option our debt level will remain at 225%, but Council has agreed to accept the breach in the first three years of this plan to enable to project to be completed. This breach will be mitigated by any capital not spent being used for the library project rather than on new projects. Our debt level will be back below our limit by year 4 – 2024/25

This option will repair the building’s structural issues in the same manner as in Option 1, however this option does not exceed the Council’s debt limit.

As in Option 1 the full costs of this project will fall to Council, but in this option the project would be delayed until a period of the Long-term Plan when there is sufficient borrowing capacity, for the project to go ahead. This means Council would remain under its debt limit with this option.

In this option the Central Library would reopen in 2028, instead of 2025.


This option will repair the building’s structural issues in the same manner as in Option 1, and allows for the remediation to happen as per the original timeframe (open 2025).

However, this option does include an extra 3% rates increase above the 13.5% in year 1.

The increase in rates will allow the Council to rapidly pay down more of the additional debt that it has taken on
Capital cost and debt impact: $187.4m
Capital cost and debt impact: $195m
Capital cost and debt impact: $187.4m capex cost and $177.1m debt impact
Rates change: 0.79% 3 year average increase
Rates change: 0.83% 3 year average increase
Rates change: 1.79% 3 year average increase


These options have pros and cons, which are outlined in more detail here

Our preferred option

The Council prefers Option 1: Strengthen now by temporarily exceeding the debt limit. This includes the Council agreeing to temporarily breach its debt limit of 225% to ensure the library can be refurbished in the original timeframe and remain in public ownership. Our debt level will remain at 225%, and Council has agreed to accept the breach in the first three years of this plan.


Want to know more about another Decision? Head back to our Long-term Plan homepage or read our full consultation document

Or, are you ready to have your say? Head to our Long-term Plan online submission form

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Check the FAQ's above on the right of this page as well as other questions below - your question may already have an answer.

Please be concise and respectful in asking questions - we will do our best to respond promptly usually by the next working day). Some answers may take a bit longer to get the details right. We monitor the site from 8:30am - 5pm Monday to Friday

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Removing the fees for ordering books into your local library saves people from having to make a trip into town, saves traffic and other costs. This change should be kept even if the central library is reinstated. Is this the plan?

    Louise asked 6 months ago

    Kia ora Louise, 

    Thank you for your feedback and sorry for the delayed response. The statement below if from our Libraries team.

    At this stage our intention is to continue with the current approach, which means ordering books into each local library is free, and only charging for reserved items when they are  not picked up by the customer within the seven-day hold period.  

    Nga mihi

    Amy

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    Why do we need to own / build the library ourselves? can we have an option to lease a commercial premises, and look at how that would compare from a cost perspective?

    DavidH asked 6 months ago

    Kia ora DavidH

    Sorry for the delay in answering your request. Here is a response from the Libraries team.

    When we consulted the public on options for the Central Library in 2020 we discarded the current, interim devolved model (three smaller branches in Manners, Brandon and Molesworth Streets) which are commercial premises the Council currently leases, for the following reasons:  

    • The current interim network wouldn’t support Wellington’s predicted population growth. 
    • We have had a Central Library in Te Ngākau Civic Precinct since the early 1900s and it has always played a key role in bringing people into the area and wider CBD. 
    • We would still need to consult about how the building can be used in the future. 

    The current library provides around 11,000 sqm of space for the library, and has a floor loading that allows for the weight of books.

    Due to both the space and floor loading requirements, finding an alternate space to lease in the CBD to house the central library is very unlikely, and would incur a significant, on-going lease costs. Even if another location was chosen, the Council would still be required to remedy the building as it is a heritage-listed.

    Nga mihi

    Amy

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    hi - can you please expand on the statement on Option 3 where you imply a rates increase of "13.5% in year 1"? In what literature is the 13.5% increase explained? Cheers

    daviddepalma asked 6 months ago

    Hi daviddepalma, 

    Option 3 includes an extra 3% rates increase above the 13.5% in year 1.  The increase in rates will allow the Council to rapidly pay down more of the additional debt that it has taken on because of the temporary loss of the dividend from the Wellington International Airport Limited due to Covid-19 impacts.

    As our borrowing limit is a ratio of debt to income, the increase in rates also enables us to borrow more against the increased rates income. 

    The additional borrowing headroom can then be used to fund the Central Library remediation and ensures the debt to income ratio of 225 percent is not breached.

    The information about the rates proposed for the 10 Year Plan is in our Consultation Document and online here.

    Cheers, 

    Amy

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    is giving up ownership of the library building an option and has that option been explored

    Bungay asked 7 months ago

    Kia ora Bungay, 

    The response from the Library team is as follows:

    At the Annual Plan/Long-Term Plan Committee on 4 March 2021 an amendment was tabled proposing officers investigate options to consider introducing a long-term lease/s to an external organisation/s for floors within the building. This was voted against as follows “…therefore both the library and office parts of the building would remain in full public ownership and that this option be the preferred.” You can read the meeting minutes on page 10 of the Minutes of Annual Plan/Long-Term Plan Committee - Thursday, 4 March 2021 (wellington.govt.nz)


    Cheers, 

    Amy