QLDC surplus boosted by lower costs

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is showing an operating surplus of almost $12 million after tracking positively since the current financial year started on July 1 last year but its overall debt rose $2 million to $100 million.

"Overall, we're $3.3 million above budget [to March 31 this year], which is a pleasing position to be in," council deputy chief executive and finance manager Stewart Burns told finance and corporate committee members in Queenstown this week.

The surplus came mostly from lower operating costs.

Council operating costs for the first nine months total $55,811,000, just under the year-to-date operating cost budget of $58,615,000 and well below the full-year budget of $81,592,000.

Accounting manager Ian Stewart told the committee the council's capital expenditure was $25,605,000 for the year to date, just 38% of the full-year capital expenditure budget of $67,075,000.

Mr Stewart said user charges were under budget by $157,000 to the year-to-date total of $9,304,000, due to lower waste management volumes and lower holiday parks revenue.

Lower user charges were offset by 2011 Rugby World Cup unbudgeted revenue of $126,000 in donations and sponsorship, going some way to offset the $162,000 cost, plus car-parking revenue at $97,000 ahead of estimate and $66,000 for log sales after harvesting trees on Ben Lomond.

Other council income was above budget by $963,000, mainly helped by the $750,000 Queenstown Airport interim dividend, $115 in legal fee recovery, $96,000 district plan and private plan change recoveries, $94,000 in grants contributions and sponsorships and $86,000 in camping infringements.

However, development contribution income was below budget by $1.7 million because development activity was less than forecast for 2012 and due to a $224,000 adjustment for contributions in previous years, Mr Stewart said.

The capital budget for roading of $19.5 million was not spent, mostly due to project timing including the $3.2 million Frankton Flats arterial road and the $1.4 million second stage of Gorge Rd.

The cost associated with arbitration over the Alpine Aqualand fast-speed hydroslide, closed for public safety and out of use for the most part since December 2008, was listed at $54,000.


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