The Dunedin City Council wants to recruit a panel of experts
from around New Zealand as part of a push to increase returns
from its $95 million investment property portfolio.
The move was signalled at yesterday's council 2013-14
pre-draft annual plan meeting and would lead to a report
detailing the change being prepared within months.
Council governance manager Sandy Graham, in a report to
yesterday's meeting, said the investment portfolio was
governed by a subcommittee of four councillors, which had the
power to approve sale, purchase and developments of up to $5
It was expected the move to an independent subcommittee and
the recruitment of additional property expertise could
increase returns to the council.
The change was also in line with recommendations contained in
the Larsen report last year, which recommended a list of
changes to the council and its group of companies.
That report warned property investment could be ''high risk''
without a carefully prepared strategy, and recommended the
council's arrangements be replaced by a new board structure
with additional expertise.
A review by consultant Mark Petersen, of D. H. Flinders NZ
Ltd, also presented yesterday, recommended an independent
subcommittee to remove any ''potential for political
influence'' over the fund.
Council chief executive Paul Orders said the cost of
recruiting and paying members of the new subcommittee could
be absorbed into existing city property budgets, without
affecting its dividend to the council.
Cr Neil Collins worried it would be difficult to recruit
truly independent members for the subcommittee, but Mayor
Dave Cull said that was why recruitment efforts would stretch
across New Zealand.
Cr Syd Brown, chairman of the council's finance, strategy and
development committee, said the portfolio was too heavily
weighted towards investments in Dunedin, and needed to
diversify beyond the city's borders.
That needed to be considered when the council recruited new
talent for the subcommittee, he said.
Ms Graham's report canvassed options including the creation
of a new council-controlled organisation for manage the
portfolio, headed by an independent board of directors.
Her report made no recommendation, but councillors opted to
pursue plans for the subcommittee and a report is to be
prepared by May.