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Published: 2013-08-15 00:00:00

The Waikato Regional Council has delivered excellent results across its strategic, financial and service delivery performance measures for the year ending 30 June 2013.

Reports to the finance and audit committee yesterday detailed the regional council’s progress toward achieving the region’s environmental and economic goals and highlighted the positive financial results that will allow the council to fund important one-off projects and reduce future rates requirements.

The council achieved 87 per cent of its performance targets and delivered an operating surplus for the year. After transfers to reserves and allowing for carry-over of funds to finish works started but not finished last year, the surplus provides unallocated funds of $3.75 million. This includes the carry-over of $2 million from previous financial years to fund a budgeted operating deficit.

Finance group manager Mike Garrett said the positive budget results reflected a wide variety of factors, including an increase in user-pays revenue, salary savings due to staff vacancies and an ongoing focus on controlling and reducing costs.

The cumulative surplus would allow one-off costs to be funded without any additional impact on rates, he said.

The committee will recommend to the full council that $1.6 million of the surplus be allocated to repairing the council’s leaky office building in Hamilton East.

The council had initially planned to fund the work from internal borrowings from the investment fund, with funding to come from the eventual sale of the property. Given the uncertainty regarding any future accommodation changes, the council considered that it was prudent to fund the works now from the available funds. While the building remediation project is progressing well, damage to the timber framing has been found to be much greater than initially thought. Contingency funds included in the project budget are expected to be sufficient to cover the extra costs.

The committee also supported the recommendation to put $170,000 toward the joint project with Thames-Coromandel District Council to manage erosion at Buffalo Beach in a way that helps keep the sandy beach, one of Whitianga’s main tourist attractions.  

The good news continued with the quarterly investment fund monitoring report which showed Waikato Regional Council’s investment fund has returned 11.4 per cent this financial year, 2.5 per cent above benchmark.  Mercer financial advisor Russell Garrett said the return was “really good for an investment fund of this type”. The council had exceeded its long term investment objective of 4 per cent after inflation and fees, with the investment return over 10 years being 4.4 per cent.

When it comes to achieving its strategic direction, the committee heard that the council is making good progress toward its long term goals of sustaining land and water, facilitating regional development and meeting the requirements of co-governance with iwi.

The committee heard that the council was continuing to focus on the ‘right things’ as achieving all three of the flagship goals is critically important for the council if it is to meet its legal responsibilities and community expectations.

For details of the council’s performance results for the 2012/13 financial year visit the August Finance and Audit Committee agenda – www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/agendas.