Waikato Regional Council has weathered a storm of wild weather and high inflation over the past financial year to keep on course with its long term plan.
The council has signed off its 2022/23 Annual Report, which reflects a moderate net deficit given some unexpected cost drivers.
Chair Pamela Storey said that while the year may have brought challenges, it also highlighted the resilience of the council and Waikato communities.
“Going into this financial year, we were particularly mindful of the impact inflation was having on our communities and on the cost of delivering services, sticking closely to the programme signalled in our long term plan to minimise expenditure.
“We also said climate resilience is the biggest challenge we face. But the full severity of the weather events that impacted New Zealand during the financial year was something few could have anticipated.
“We’re immensely proud of our coordinated regional response. And we were pleased to see our flood protection assets worked as they should to protect lives and livelihoods.”
The council’s flood assets safeguard, to agreed levels, property worth over $19 billion and support a thriving agricultural sector that contributes around $2.8 billion a year to the regional economy.
At year end, the council’s financial performance was $1.644 million unfavourable compared to the annual plan.
The council heard how additional, unbudgeted costs of $2.140 million, incurred in response to weather events over January and February 2023, were the main reason for the outcome. It is expected that these costs will be funded by a drawdown from the regional and zone disaster recovery reserves – funds set aside by the council to meet the response and recovery costs of such events.
Chief Executive Chris McLay said: “The impacts of the extreme weather events played a big part in our financial performance this year. But, despite this, we’ve delivered on a raft of commitments to help make the Waikato even better – environmentally, economically and socially. These include vital stopbank upgrades in the Hauraki Plains to protect people and property from flooding, new regional bus services to keep communities connected, and big plans to prevent the loss of biodiversity, to name just a few.”
The council’s annual report was adopted by council at a meeting on 31 October 2023. It received an unmodified audit opinion from Audit New Zealand, indicating it was presented fairly and transparently, in line with applicable accounting standards.
The annual report is available online at waikatoregion.govt.nz/annual-report.
The council meeting was livestreamed. You can watch it here: youtube.com/live/v09Gxhp8HNU?feature=share.