Councillors have agreed to set aside almost $9m for the upgrade of the council administration building in Zingel Place, Bega.
The project will see a complete upgrade of the admin offices and shared entrance to the Bega Valley Regional Galley, in preparation for gallery development works.
The offices are more than 30 years old and span approximately 2000sqm across two floors. Originally designed to accommodate 79 staff in 1984, staff numbers have grown to more than 120 and there has been ad hoc minor modifications to reflect the changing needs of the organisation.
Also workplace design has undergone considerable change in the last three decades. Council said the building requires internal renovations and upgrades to comply with current legal and regulatory requirements including accessibility and sustainability.
Cr Tony Allen spoke strongly in favour of the upgrade saying that modern offices would attract top quality staff the .
"The offices in Zingel Place - to have the staff with capacity and experience to work here - they have got to have good accommodation," Cr Allen said.
"We've got people sitting on each others' knees, they are boxed in. It's not conducive to modern business. This has to happen," he said.
There have been suggestions that other buildings buildings owned by council could be used to accommodate staff but Cr Allen said it wasn't feasible.
"When a meeting is called, they are there - five minutes away, not driving from Eden or Merimbula or somewhere else.
"Bega - that's were the headquarters are and that's not going to change. I thoroughly endorse this report. I hope it's a precinct that makes all staff proud to come to work, not for today, not for tomorrow but for the next 30 years," Cr Allen said in conclusion.
Acting CEO Anthony McMahon said a vote for the recommendation would mean the financial modelling would be brought back to council.
"All this is doing this is making it an item for consideration in the next long-term plan," Mr McMahon said.
The money is not in the current 21/22 budget but if work is to start in financial year 2023, as suggested in the council business paper for the meeting on Wednesday, July 21, then councillors will need to find the money as they finalise next year's budget.
The overall estimated project cost is $8.975m with a construction cost of $6.7 million. This figure includes contingencies and consultant fees for services and assumes a construction commencement in 2023. If the work is not started at this time then costs will undoubtedly increase. The consultants said that cost estimates were to January 2023.
Councillors unanimously agreed to make an allocation in the future long-term financial modelling of $8.975m in capital expenditure to allow the upgrade.