Ratepayers asked to find budget space

The Southland Museum & Art Gallery building. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

IF Invercargill ratepayers want the Southland Museum & Art Gallery completed before 2026, they need to tell councillors what projects can be sidelined or how big a rate increase they are prepared to accept.

The Invercargill City Council debated the early completion of the museum at the performance, policy and partnership committee meeting on Monday, ahead of adopting the 2021-31 long-term plan and consultation document Roadmap to Renewal at a full council meeting.

Cr Nobby Clark was the only councillor who opposed the adoption of the plan citing his disapproval at the proposed length of time it would take for the museum upgrade to be completed.

Community feedback he had received regarding the project indicated its completion was too far into the future.

“The report we got in 2020 suggested it would be a three-year project,” he said.

He wanted ratepayers and organisations within the community to make presentations to the consultation in regards to the museum and the i-Site length of closure.

Getting to the core issue of the length of time it would take to complete the museum redevelopment was like peeling an onion, he said.

“Every time I remove a layer it just seems to have another layer and my eyes water every single time I do it.”

He said the degree of scepticism in the community about projects being completed was growing.

Committee chairman Darren Ludlow said the council was now in a position to drive the project.

“Timelines can change but it’s a game of Tetris and we’re going to have to figure out what else we can shift out in order to afford it.”

Cr Rebecca Amundsen said the capital works programme in the plan was extensive and full.

“I’ve just been thinking been thinking about the 2018 LTP where we had those five projects where none of them have actually happened, and I feel like if we’re not careful, we might make the same mistake again in that we might frontload our LTP with too many things and because we’re trying to do too much we don’t actually achieve anything.”

Cr Lesley Soper said she urged people to give feedback if they would like projects timelines changed.

She wanted people to give councillors “an idea of what they would like moved out, delayed, held up for a long length of time”, as well as what rate increase they would see as acceptable.

Public consultation on the long-term plan document begins today.

Councillors and city council staff will go out to different venues to help encourage feedback from members of the community.

The consultation period ends on May 3.