Despite the challenges of COVID-19 the Wairoa District Council’s Annual Report for the year ended June 30 showed Council still had a reasonably strong balance sheet.
The 2019/20 Annual Report, which was adopted at last week’s Council meeting, provides a summary of Council’s activities, performance and financial situation measured against budgets and targets determined in Year Three of the Long-Term Plan 2018-28 and the Annual Plan 2019-20.
The report was received on time in line with the original deadline, despite the deadline to adopt the report being extended due to COVID-19.
Independent member of Council’s Finance Audit and Risk Committee, Philip Jones, who is an independent member on seven other FAR committees around the country said Wairoa is the first Council of the seven he is involved with the receive its annual report.
In the report’s opening statement Mayor Craig Little and interim chief executive Kitea Tipuna said while 2020 has seen unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19, Council is positioning itself to rebuild in the wake of this virus.
“We are tremendously proud of our community and its resilience, and the hundreds of people who worked to ensure our community was kept safe and well. A special thanks to our Council staff who ensured there was no disruption to our essential services. It is this infrastructure and provision of service that has formed the foundation to allow our community to navigate through a COVID-19 recovery.”
They also said the pandemic allowed Council to demonstrate what can be achieved by working in a collaborative manner, particularly the Wairoa’s economic recovery through Council’s partnership journey with Tātau Tātau o Te Wairoa Trust (TToTWT) and Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust.
Council is continuing to work with the Government to look at opportunities through the Provincial Growth Fund, and other funds, to support projects that would bring significant benefit and employment to the Wairoa district.
Mr Little said the Council knows there is no room to rest on its laurels.
“There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure Council is working hard to continue to deliver affordable services to our community and that the levels and costs of these services are fully understood.This will be an important conversation that we need to have with our community. Level of service will be a focus of our formal consultation on our Long-Term Plan early next year, with pre- engagement in January and full community consultation in April.”
Highlights of the 2019/20 year included securing $20m of Provincial Growth Fund funding for specific unbudgeted projects, 29,339 library visits, 120 LGOIMA requests, diverting 72.23 tonnes of waste from the landfill, 23km of sealed road resurfacing, $12.55 million value of building consents issued, 91 archive inquiries and 161 files digitalised, 18 open sewer pipes capped, 13,000 cubic metres of maintenance metals applied to roads, 2346 museum visitis,111 building consents issued, eight marae registered with Para Kore (Zero waste), 3184 dogs registered, 2.9 million litres of drinking water produced per day and 350 rates rebate applications assisted with.
Although Council finished its financial year with a $3.95 million surplus, this includes $4.8 million of subsidy revenue received from NZTA and PGF to pay for capital projects. The result was also slightly adverse to budget of $4.45 million due to exceptional costs relating to the COVID-19 response and timing differences on costs associated with the wastewater treatment reconsenting programme.
The total cost to run the district for the year was $32 million. Council’s ongoing operational costs will be a focus of the upcoming Long-Term Plan consultation which begins early next year.
The Council owes $9 million which is within its borrowing policy. This in an increase of $4 million and was used to spread the cost of new facilities and infrastructure, particularly around Three Waters costs. Investments provide returns that exceed debt servicing costs.
Council’s total fixed assets are valued at around $286 million with $16.46 million spent on building new assets over 2019/20.
The need to borrow money highlights Council’s dependency on subsidy revenue for levels of service to reduce burden on ratepayers.
Significant infrastructure work included progressing the Wastewater Discharge consent application; receiving regional funding of $1.55 million for the five councils of Hawke’s Bay to progress the region-wide review of Three Waters service delivery; Mahia connectivity with an $8.3 million Central Government investment of traction sealing, drains, culverts, safety and traffic improvements on the Mahia East Coast Road and investigating options for access into the Peninsula and realignment of the Nuhaka/Opoutama Road; $4.8 million-dollar Provincial Growth Fund investment to transform Wairoa’s main street; Continuation of the Inflow and Infiltration project (stormwater out of the sewer network) project and continuation of the Bridge Strengthening programme with $2.2 million funding approved through the Provincial Growth Fund.
Council is thrilled to have further evidence of Wairoa’s growing population. The 2018 Census population data shows Wairoa’s population increased by 477 (8,367) compared to the 2013 census (7,890). Our ‘Estimated Resident Population’ for 2019 is 8,680.
The report was project managed by Council staff member Lauren Jones who received positive feedback on the look and the content of the report.
28 October 2020
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