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New chapter set in library upgrade

Masterton’s library will be upgraded and extended after a slim majority of councillors voted on the project.

At a council meeting on Wednesday, councillors voted 5-4 for the upgrade as part of the Long-Term Plan [LTP] deliberations.

If the council’s LTP is adopted at the end of the month, the library project – which was the council’s preferred consultation option, will cost $10.75 million and be loan-funded, with $500k from reserves.

The council will take a staged approach, upgrading and expanding the library first, and then consider further expansion to accommodate the archive in the future.

The initial focus will be on essential repair work and extending the library to provide additional space for public programmes, a creative classroom, a workroom, and an open-plan office space.

The library footprint will increase by 440m2.

Councillor Stella Lennox moved for the council to support this option, which was seconded by Mayor Gary Caffell.

Councillors David Holmes, Craig Bowyer, and Deputy Mayor Bex Johnson voted in support and the motion passed.

Prior to this, councillor Brent Goodwin moved for council to complete only essential library repairs and maintenance at a cost of $2.3m.

This was supported by councillors Marama Tuuta, Tom Hullena, and Tim Nelson.

Nelson signalled he had only supported this cheaper option for the library after the council had earlier voted to build a new town hall, which he did not support.

Also during Wednesday’s deliberations, councillors voted unanimously to complete essential work to improve water and roading infrastructure in the town centre, with no other improvements to Queen St.

This will cost $6.48m and will be funded through depreciation reserves, rates, and NZTA subsidy.

Other changes to the LTP include reduced funding to the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy [saving $20k], ceased funding for regional walking and cycling facilitation [saving $35k], and continued funding of $40,500 for regional positive ageing strategy facilitation.

Council agreed to seek further external funding for Welcoming Communities facilitation or cease the projects and activities that are currently delivered when current funding expires in 2025.

Council also agreed to increase the Community-Led Climate Initiatives Fund from $50,000 to $100,000 rather than funding Climate Activation beyond April 2026, when external funding ends.

Council also voted to maintain existing council funding arrangements instead of switching to a model that would have resulted in all organisations contesting annually for funds.

Under the chosen option, $85,000 will be available through annual general contestable applications, and $316,300 will be available through the Long-Term Plan submissions process.

This option gives more certainty for organisations that currently have funding through the LTP submissions process and results in less administration for the council and those organisations.

These changes will be made to the LTP, which is scheduled to be adopted by the council on June 26.

In the LTP Consultation Document, MDC signalled an average rates rise of 10.6 per cent, driven largely by higher costs in the roading and water activities.

After further work before deliberations, the average rise was signalled to be 10.2 per cent, although this is subject to change based on deliberations decisions.

For example, the council’s preferred option in the consultation document for the town hall was at a cost of $42.6m, but council has voted to proceed with a project with an overall cost of $33.7m [$8.7m for Waiata House expansion and $25m for a town hall project, including demolition]. -NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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