Renovation budget rises - again

What was originally planned as an NIS 200 million renovation of City Hall has now ballooned into a mind-boggling NIS 320 million project.

ugly ta building 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ugly ta building 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv's planned NIS 200 million renovation of the City Hall building sparked an outcry when it was first announced last year, but the budget has now risen to NIS 320 million and is still climbing, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. And among the latest items raising eyebrows is the planned spending of NIS 12 million to replace all the office furniture in the building. According to the report, the massive renovation budget has angered many people from the outset, with critics saying that for NIS 200 million an entirely new, larger and more suitable building could be constructed. But the city decided to stick with renovating the 40-year-old original building, deciding to reinforce the structure, replace the windows and toilet facilities, place new flooring over the old floors and repair the old plumbing system. Since then, the approved budget has risen to NIS 320 million, with the city explaining that extra money was needed for unexpected infrastructure work. Regarding its vote to allot NIS 12 million to replace all the office furniture in the hundreds of rooms throughout the building, the city's Finances Committee said unneeded furniture would be offered for sale at a minimum of 30 percent of its value, and if this price could not be obtained, the city would consider donating it to public bodies. Deputy Mayor and environmental leader Pe'er Visner was furious at the latest plan, saying it was a waste of public money. "In an era in which the entire world considers how to save and recycle, the city of Tel Aviv thinks only how to waste," he said. Visner added that the furniture in the building was replaced regularly and that much of it was quite new, including the recently replaced councilors' furniture. "It is not as if we have furniture from 40 years ago … I see no reason why they should now change everything again," he said. But a municipal spokesman said replacing the furniture was "an integral part" of the renovation project and that much of it was old and needed to be changed. The spokesman said the furniture would be replaced over the next five years, by which time the renovation work would be complete.