$352,000 deficit not a concern

A $352,000 deficit is not worrying the Waitaki District Council because it would have made a surplus if not for some unexpected expenditure and drop in income during the 2009-10 financial year.

Yesterday, the council formally received and adopted its annual report after an unqualified audit report and statement of compliance from Audit NZ.

Last financial year's deficit compared with a $6.9 million surplus in the 2008-09 financial year, which included funding left in the budget for some major projects which were not completed.

"Don't panic," financial services manager Paul Hope told the council over the 2009-10 deficit.

The council had "about 250 jam jars" - sources of funding - and some years some would run at a deficit.

"This is one of those years," he said.

Most units within the council were within or under budget, but five items in particular contributed to the deficit.

Major flooding in May, along with activation of the civil defence headquarters to cope, had caused more spending on emergency services.

Flooding also caused about $1.5 million damage to roading assets.

Recovery of costs at the landfills was less than projected and there was increased depreciation for the Opera House after its $10.3 million redevelopment.

Mr Hope said falling interest rates also reduced income for the council.

He pointed out the council was "a $38-million-a-year business" so the $352,000 deficit was "not unreasonable", given the circumstances.

Chief executive Michael Ross said 80% of the council's business units were under budget, showing staff had exercised considerable financial restraint during the past year.

The council's income for the year was $38.569 million (compared with $44.757 million in 2008-09), with $23.884 million ($23.046 million in 2008-09) coming in rates.

That broke down into an average of $1714 per rateable property, compared with $1666 in the 2008-09 financial year.

Total expenditure was $38.921 million ($37.852 million in 2008-09).

In terms of debt, the council has $14,000 in loans from external sources and $24.441 million internally (money loaned to itself from reserves and other accounts).


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