Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s newly-adopted Annual Report for 2019-20 reflects a year of progress in areas of land and water management, achieved in extraordinary circumstances.
Faced with the effects of a prolonged drought and COVID-19, the Council also celebrated 30 years in existence, welcomed six new councillors to the table and floated a 45% share of Napier Port on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. This released capital back to Council and provided the funding mechanism for Napier Port to progress development of a new wharf and other infrastructure.
For chief executive James Palmer, it has been an exceptional year.
“The pandemic delayed some projects and increased some costs, particularly those relating to our Emergency Management team’s efforts to support the Regional Council’s pandemic response. Despite COVID-19, we delivered our services largely to the intent of our Annual Plan,” said Mr Palmer.
“The substantial amount we’ve achieved this year in our water, land, biodiversity and infrastructure programmes is a testament to the resilience of our staff to deliver their workload, whether at home or at work, leaning more heavily on our technology than ever before and as COVID alert levels have changed.”
The Council experienced an increase in overhead costs due to the implementation of a remuneration review in the first quarter, and an increase in day-to-day IT costs. Some additional costs were incurred as a result of COVID-19, such as cleaning and IT infrastructure to support remote working. There were also additional audit fees, and the costs to amend, consult and redraft the Annual Plan.
The overall result was an actual deficit of $3.2 million for the year, instead of a planned surplus of $7 million. The sharemarket float of Napier Port in August 2019 raised $24 million over and above expectations, and saw a significant revaluation in the 55% shareholding of this regional asset. However, COVID-19 had a significant impact on investment income, particularly returns from managed funds which was $7.3 million less than the expected $7.7 million.
Regional Councillor Craig Foss chairs the Finance Audit and Risk Sub-Committee. He thanked staff for their work to prepare the Annual Report this year.
“The preparation of this Annual Report is always a significant piece of work, but this has been an especially difficult year. The delays and rescheduling to the adoption caused by COVID-19 have been challenging and staff have worked very hard to prepare this report to a high standard,” said Mr Foss.
The Annual Report will be available to be read at hbrc.govt.nz, search #annualreports.
24 February 2021
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