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Council acting to reduce debt by deferring capital projects

7 February 2014

Council acting to reduce debt by deferring capital projects

Rotorua District Council has agreed to defer a number of scheduled capital projects as part of immediate action to reduce debt levels.

The deferred projects have a total value of approximately $5.4 million and were all scheduled for completion in the current 2013/14 year. Most of the programmes would have been funded through borrowing, adding to the council’s debt levels.

Projects selected for deferral have been identified as those that will not cut essential infrastructural maintenance and renewals, or essential services.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said that deferring the capital projects was the toughest decision the new council had had to make.

“None of us on Council felt particularly comfortable having to take such drastic action. There remains some unease over potential risks from not proceeding with some of the programmes at this time and that risk will need to be assessed in more detail in the coming months.

“We are also very conscious that some of the previously planned projects were commitments made to our community in response to residents’ requests over recent years - so our decisions were not made lightly.

Mrs Chadwick emphasised that the council’s decision was at this stage to only defer a number of capital projects and that none of them had been cancelled outright. She said all deferrals would be reconsidered as part of preparing a draft annual plan for 2014/15 and the next long-term plan, and the community would be consulted.

Deferred projects would need to stack up against other required expenditure in the annual and long-term plans, and against a careful measure of what is affordable said Mrs Chadwick

“This council is facing up to the realities of a debt situation that is worse than was previously understood. We’ve had a very timely message from our chief executive and chief financial officer that we must take urgent action to reduce growing debt levels and stimulate growth.

“It would be irresponsible to continue on with the levels of capital and operating expenditure that are in existing council plans. We need to pull back hard and we need to do it now.

“We’re in a new era of transparency and openness. This council is totally committed to being up-front with our community so together we can embark on a new and sustainable journey towards a more prosperous future for our district.”

ENDS

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