News: Annual report shows budget on track

15 February 2022

South Wairarapa District Council’s 2020/2021 Annual Report is a chance to look back on how the Council has performed financially, a review of significant events and projects, and benchmark its achievements.

Despite the difficulties which Covid-19 and Mother Nature at times have presented, the Council has been able to achieve most of its goals.

One of the key findings from the report is that after various non-cash items, developers contributions and other subsidies which must be spend on capital, our operational budget is on track. Non-cash items include property, asset revaluations and assets vested into the Council’s care.

The Council received revenue of just over $28 million, which was boosted by unbudgeted external funding such as the Stimulus Funding, Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs and Provincial Growth Funding (PGF).

The increase in operating revenue is offset by an increase in operating expenditure.  Overall, once the above considerations are taken into account, the result is on budget.

On the roading front, our Ruamāhanga Roads team (a joint operation with Carterton District Council) has made significant headway, including a $121,186 resealing job on Cape Palliser Road, and $284,110 on rate-funded footpath maintenance, split three ways between our three towns.

Another $195,336 was allocated to footpath renewals and $487,249 to road resurfacing. About 53 per cent of our roading funding comes from Waka Kotahi.

Under amenities, improvements were made to our senior housing ($52,100) and new exercise equipment in our parks ($31,000) have been well used. Stella Bull Park in Greytown was better illuminated with $6,870 of lighting and $15,000 was spent on upgrading the stand and other improvements at Greytown Pool.

Many other amenities also got a facelift, some with external funding. Featherston War Memorial received a $217,000 make-over, and Anzac Hall received $80,000 of improvements through the Provincial Growth Fund

Chief Executive Harry Wilson said the Council’s objective was to deliver a balanced budget “and we have certainly delivered this”.

“Our balance sheet is strong and our reserves are building to fund future activity and infrastructure from depreciation and growth. We are not highly geared, and our debt is structured to fairly balance inter-generational equity, so today’s ratepayers are funding their share of the assets needed by future generations.

“All in all, we are in an excellent position.”

Our planning team was also hard at work. Consultation began on the Spatial Plan, which will set the direction for the district’s growth over the next 30 years, and the Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve initiative was built into it. Work also began on the Five Towns Trails Network’s master plan for a series of walking, running and cycle trails across the region.

Our positive ageing, climate change and community development co-ordinators made some major contributions to our collective wellbeing. Climate change advisor Melanie Barthe launched a healthy home kit and began work on a new climate change strategy. Positive Ageing co-ordinator Lisa Matthews collated data on our footpath accessibility for seniors and liaised with Digital Seniors and Age Concern.

Meanwhile, Siv Fjaerestad, who joined us with the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs, helped find many placements for our youth and then became our community development advisor.

At the time this report ended, many projects and plans were still underway. The Council continues to work tirelessly to find the best solutions at the most reasonable price but some issues such as the ownership of water assets and the impact of Covid-19 are still emerging.

There is also much begun in the 2020/2021 year that we look forward to updating the community on in the next annual plan.

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