Environment Waikato has ended its financial year within $75,000 of its operating budget, despite a poor performance from its investment fund.
This week’s Corporate Services Committee heard expenditure was close to its original $39 million budget, but the investment fund performance - reflecting a poor investment climate world-wide - contributed significantly to a net deficit of $3.71 million.
To counter this, the Council drew down on its equalisation reserve account, where excess returns of previous years were set aside to offset poor years. Since its inception the Council’s return on the investment had averaged 9.4 percent. Overheads had also been significantly reduced in the last year.
In a report to the Council, Chairman Neil Clarke and Chief Executive Barry Harris said the year had been one of major progress on a number of key strategic directions. The Council was working on a number of major projects, including developing a strategy to protect the waters of Lake Taupo, consultation with Waikato and Waipa River catchment landowners on Project Watershed, and hearings and deliberations on the Regional Plan and Regional Pest Management Strategy.
Successes had continued in controlling bovine Tb infection rates, with a reduction in the percentage of infected cattle and deer herds in risk areas down to 1.9 percent – well ahead of a regional target of 3.65 percent. Successful possum control operations had reduced possum populations in the Hauhungaroa Range, Pihanga and Tongariro.
The cost of responding to appeals to the Environment Court was causing concern, with $378,000 spent which was not recoverable on a process that effectively re-heard what the Council had already deliberated.
Care groups for land, beaches and streams involved increasing numbers of residents in looking after their local resources, and field days were held for landowners on managing land and water issues, planting, soil assessments and catchment management.
The Waste Exchange had proved a resounding success, with more than 300 products registered on the free database. The service allows businesses and industry with re-useable waste products to list them for others to use again. It had already diverted more than a million litres of waste from landfills as well as providing new products and fundraisers for community groups.
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