Waitaki mayor unconcerned with deficit

Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT
Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT
The Waitaki District Council is still in a sound financial position despite positing a deficit of $4.4 million for the past financial year, Mayor Gary Kircher says.

The 2020-21 annual report was adopted at an additional council meeting last week, revealing the deficit and the council’s more than $1 billion worth of assets.

The council finished the year with a higher than budgeted deficit and cited contributing factors including the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in projects being interrupted and deferred, increased staffing levels to cope with Three Waters demands, and the Lake Ohau Village fire response.

Mr Kircher said considering the past year’s extraordinary elements, the council was "absolutely fine" with the end result.

Predicting the exact figures for a year ahead was always a challenge when there were more than 30 activities on the go, and the council would continue working towards balancing the budget and achieving what it set out to do.

Discussions at last Tuesday’s meeting centred on the lengthy process of putting together the report and getting it audited by Audit New Zealand.

Finance and corporate development group manager Paul Hope said it had been a challenging process.

"I think it really has gotten out of shape. We essentially report to the same standard as a listed multi-national yet our audience is very, very different."

Audit director Rudie Tomlinson agreed, saying there were "bottlenecks" from both council and Audit New Zealand.

Councillor Colin Wollstein said the document was so long he stopped reading half way through.

"And I’m one of the few nerds around here that would probably look at more than the summary page if you like," Cr Wollstein said.

Mr Kircher echoed everyone’s words, saying there was a lot of information in the report that added no value.

kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz

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