Louise Miller, Kaipara District Council CEO

New building to house two councils

by Paul Campbell

Construction of a proposed $8.4million building In Hokianga Road, Dargaville to house staff from the Northland Regional and Kaipara District councils, could be underway early next year and finished early in 2021, according to an agreement revealed last week.

Regional Council chief executive Malcolm Nicolson and Kaipara District counterpart Louise Miller say given the two councils already have a mutual ratepayer base and shared office space it makes sense for a single, purpose-built, modern building complex to house up to 80 local authority staff from the two councils. The project is being hailed as both a good investment and a sign of ongoing confidence in Dargaville’s future.

“This is a shot in the arm for Dargaville and an example of the collaborative approach to partnerships for KDC now and going forward,” said Kaipara Mayor, Jason Smith. “People need better access to council services, and this development is very good news, with the NRC acting as a core financial partner.

“We’ll get improved service levels for the community and efficiencies without adding any debt to KDC’s finances. This development could also be a model for a possible shared council building in Mangawhai in future.”

The building would be developed by the NRC, and about a dozen of its operational field staff, associated vehicles and specialist equipment would also be based there. The KDC and about 65 of its staff, most in administrative roles — would be a key tenant.

“It will be a prudent investment in Dargaville and a sign of our mutual confidence in, and commitment to, the area’s future,” Mr Nicolson says. ”It’s also a practical way council can help deliver on one of our key community outcomes; contributing to a strong regional economy.”

The NRC is significantly extending its field operations around Northland, including Kaipara, with up to a dozen staff expected to be working from Dargaville within the next couple of years. NRC also needs a public service centre, a workshop, specialised storage and wash-down areas for vehicles and equipment; the latter to help ensure high biosecurity standards to reduce the risk of spreading things like kauri dieback and Mycoplasma bovis.

Ms Miller says from the KDC perspective, a move to the proposed building would be a win-win as it’s a strong financial decision for the small rating base of Kaipara to lease and repurpose, rather than take on ownership of a new build.

“The relocation would also enable the resulting vacated district council property to be redeveloped for other services and allow for remediation of a building that’s not currently fit for purpose.“

Mr Nicolson and Ms Miller are working to finalise potential lease details before NRC members consider the final plan. The NRC paid $465,000 for the 1,235 square metre property at 32 Hokianga Rd from its Property Reinvestment Fund in late 2017.

Consultants have been engaged, and at this point, it is expected construction of the modern two storey building could be underway early next year and finished early in 2021 subject to approval from the new regional council in place after the local body elections in October.