New Nelson Mayor Nick Smith will put to the first Nelson City Council meeting on Thursday 10 November that the Council not spend any further ratepayer funds on the ambitious library project on Halifax Street adjacent to the Maitai River.

“I gave a commitment during the local elections that the first resolution I would put to Council is to put the library development project on hold. Households and businesses are facing enormous financial pressure from the highest inflation rate in 40 years and the sharp increase in interest rates, which makes the library project unaffordable in the current climate.

“I do not want further ratepayer money spent on detailed design and further engineering studies when there isn’t the financial room to finance the project.

“Council’s finances have become even more challenging since the devastating August weather event. The cost of the repair work to Council’s own infrastructure is likely to fall between $40–$60m on top of the $6m spent during the emergency phase. Council staff and I will be working with government and Council’s insurers to recover a share of this amount, but a sizeable part of the cost will inevitably fall on the ratepayer.

“I remain firmly committed to providing quality library services for the Nelson community, and I want to address the immediate issue of tile safety as quickly as possible so the Elma Turner Library can return to full service.

“To that end, I am proposing Council establish a Library Reopening Taskforce to urgently progress the work to enable this to occur.”

The taskforce will comprise Mayor Nick and Councillors Kahu Paki Paki, Tim Skinner and Aaron Stallard. This group will be able to make rapid decisions about next steps once Council has received the final version of the Structural Detailed Seismic Assessment for the library.

“The Council will need to review its capital programme of works over the next decade through the Annual Plan process next year, and needs to have a longer-term discussion about the future of the current central city facility," Mayor Nick says.

“This will include the options of maintaining the current facility or a more modest new development. It’s important the public have an opportunity to have input in this longer-term plan.”