Why can’t Phil Goff and his councillors be like the Tasman District council?

A council that can reduce debt significantly shouldn’t be news but in today’s high debt environment with wasteful spending happening all over the show it is. Tasman District Council has achieved what the Super City can only dream of. They have paid off a huge amount of debt while achieving a large operating surplus. Be still my beating heart.

Cr Kit Maling wonders if the results mean the council is setting the rates too high.

Cr Kit Maling wonders if the results mean the council is setting the rates too high.

Tasman District Council ended the 2016-17 financial year with $44 million less debt than budgeted and an underlying operating surplus of $12.9m.

[…] The operating surplus of $12.9m was larger than the $10.4m total tipped in May after the March 2017 quarterly financial update. It follows a similar surplus in 2015-16 of $13.2m and prompted Cr Kit Maling to ask if the council was collecting too much in rates.

I think I am in love. A councillor who wants to reduce rates!

“This is the second year in a row of a similar surplus and does that mean that the rates we’re setting are too high because our ratepayers have paid that and then we’ve got this extra money that we’re using to pay off debt,” Maling said at council meeting to adopt the Annual Report 2017. “Are we being too ambitious in what we propose to do on our Annual Plan?”

Maling also asked if the activities creating the surplus were likely to be repeated in the future.

“I would hate to be in this position next year because it means we’re collecting too much money,” he said.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the council’s capital spend needed to be much closer to what was estimated.

“We as a council are expecting to be closer to the mark,” he said.

Holden said some of the savings were one-off and some would be ongoing. There was lower depreciation and finance charges were less than budgeted. In addition, there was a saving in the general operating expenses of about $600,000 and roading maintenance was down.

On the flip side, forestry income was up.

“You’ll be aware that we’ve … brought forward some of the forestry harvesting to take advantage of the market,” Holden said. “That was about $4.5m extra revenue coming through.”

[…] Careful control of spending, low interest rates, higher dividends from Port Nelson and Nelson Airport and increased forestry revenue had all contributed, the mayor said.

While the council’s capital projects spend of $32.7m was below budget, a lot had been achieved including:
* responding to the effects of the Kaikoura earthquake with extra facilities for St Arnaud and Murchison;
* the start of joint landfill operations with Nelson City Council:
* progress on replacing the Kaiteriteri sewer main that runs under the Tapu Bay estuary with a land-based pipe:
* work towards improving freshwater quality:
* progress securing land and funding for the proposed Waimea dam:
* completion of a new community recreation centre for Golden Bay.

 – Stuff


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