Councillors are being asked to put aside at least $4 million dollars over the next two years to deal with the city’s mouldy administration building.
That’s in addition to the $1.3 million the mould issue has cost so far. The figures are contained in a report to be discussed at tomorrow’s city council meeting.
The city’s Civic buildings, in the foreground, first began leaking in the year following the official opening.
It’s the first time councillors have been publicly appraised of the issue that has seen around 300 of the city’s 400 or so staff rehoused since public confirmation of the mould on December 15 last year.
The extent of the work required to fix the leaks that caused the mould won’t be known until a consultant’s report is delivered in late March.
Meanwhile staff are also investigating whether the mould infested buildings require seismic strengthening. Council won’t be able to decide on options until the additional information is available.
Councillors are asked to note the incurred, committed and projected costs for the mould issue in 2014/15 of $1,367,332, and approve a funding approach that firstly uses the $1 million rates surplus from 2014/15 with any remaining costs funded from council’s risk management reserve.
Council is also asked to approve the committed and known mould costs for 2015/16 and 2016/17 of $1,053,424 per annum and approve an additional $1 million per annum for potential future council campus building costs.
A building contingency reserve is also required, which will require a further allocation of $794,318 from 2017/18.
The reason why the extra money needs to be set aside becomes clear when the buildings’ history is considered. They have all leaked for years, and additions made in the early 2000s didn’t stop the leaks.
There are four buildings in total. The administration building at the Hamilton Street end, the two Civic Buildings on the Wharf Street end and the library.
The administration building was completed in 1972 with an enclosed canopy entranceway extension added in 1994 and a single-storey extension onto Willow St and Hamilton St in 1998.
Leaks were discovered in July 1998 where the single-storey extension joined the original building and on the outer edge of this extension.
More leaks occurred in the administration building and the civic buildings in 2005 as a result of a ’weather bomb’ storm.
After that the extent and frequency of leaks ‘has been more than minor’.
The ground and first floors of the civic buildings were completed in June 1989, and the first leaks reported the following March. From then onwards there were continuing reports of leaks, wet carpets and mould.
The cause has been blamed on the construction of the roof-top car-park, the air-bridges, the arcade roof plus windows and joinery. The leaks continued in spite of remedial work undertaken by the original builder.
Leaks, mould and health concerns forced the evacuation of staff from the first floor of the Wharf/Willow St civic building for three months in 2003 while a thorough cleansing process took place.
The following year air quality testing on the first floor produced satisfactory results, but bacteria on the carpet, tiles and paint samples produced some exceptionally high results. The test results recommended removal and remediation of water-damaged materials.
Known symptoms for black mould (stachybotrys) exposure include coughs, red eyes and asthma symptoms that have been reported by a number of staff. Prendes, supported by the relevant health and mould experts, advised that staff should be evacuated from the building
Test results cleared the customer services call centre on the ground floor of Civic C, and chambers accommodation on the second floor of Civic A, of any mould issues.