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Local Authority Statistics -Stats NZ

Local Authority Statistics: December 1999 quarter

Local authorities recorded a seasonally adjusted surplus of $39.0 million from non-trading activities in the December 1999 quarter. This is an improvement on the $14.0 million deficit recorded in the September 1999 quarter, said Government Statistician Len Cook. The latest Quarterly Local Authority Survey shows the improvement is a result of increased income being greater than the increase in expenditure between the September and December quarters.

Seasonally adjusted operating income, excluding gains from non-recurring items, was $984.9 million in the December 1999 quarter, an increase of $102.7 million or 11.6 per cent compared with the September 1999 quarter. This increase was largely a result of a rise in investment income. Investment income is the combination of dividends received and interest revenue. The increase in interest revenue in the quarter reflects the return on funds invested after the sale of trading enterprises. Interest revenue was $51.0 million and dividend revenue was $74.1 million in the December 1999 quarter.

Seasonally adjusted operating expenditure, excluding losses from non-recurring items, was $945.9 million in the December 1999 quarter, up $49.7 million or 5.5 per cent from the September 1999 quarter. Both purchases of goods and services, up $30.0 million, and depreciation, up $18.6 million, showed significant increases between the September and December 1999 quarters. In the lead up to the year 2000, councils had been testing computer systems and essential services, preparing contingency plans and organising celebratory events for the new year. Depreciation continued to rise as a result of greater capital expenditure and higher fixed asset values. In the December 1999 quarter, depreciation was $247.4 million, the highest recorded since the series began in September 1992.

The effect of legislation requiring local authorities to account for depreciation on infrastructural and restricted assets can be seen in both the quarterly and annual results, particularly during 1999. While income has remained fairly static in the first six months of the June 2000 financial year, spending rose when compared with the six months to June 1999. Revenue has fallen by $2.6 million or 0.1 per cent while spending was up by $153.0 million or 9.1 per cent. The local authorities recorded a $25.0 million operating surplus in the six months to December 1999 compared to the $180.6 million operating surplus of for the six months to December 1998.

In the year to June 1999, the 86 local authorities recorded a combined operating surplus of $183.9 million, an increase of $44.6 million from June 1998. The improvement is a result of increased revenue greater than increased expenses: income rose by $176.9 million while expenditure rose by $132.3 million.

In the June 1999 year the local authorities recorded current expenditure of $3,454.1 million, up from $3,321.8 million in the previous year. Purchases and other expenses were 7.8 per cent lower in the June 1999 year. The change in policy regarding depreciation means many councils are now capitalising some maintenance expenditure which was previously treated as a current expense.

Operating revenue for the year ended June 1999 was $3,638.0 million, up 5.1 per cent from June 1998. Increases were recorded in all components of revenue, the largest being general rates, up $67.2 million; sales and other income, up $20.3 million; and grants, subsidies and levies, up $17.3 million.

Len Cook

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