Council adopts Annual Report and Overview for 2017/18
31 October 2018
Today, the Council adopted its Annual Report 2017/18 and Annual Report 2017/18 Overview, which show that overall, the Council achieved what it set out to do, and that its balance sheet remains strong.
The Annual Report 2017/18 provides an overview of the achievements for the third year of our 2015-2025 Long-term Plan, which focused on Southland’s Big 3 – water, air and biodiversity.
Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said the results were pleasing and positioned the Council well for all the important work ahead.
“The work of these past three years lays a sound foundation for the critical work ahead, particularly for improving water quality through our People, Water and Land programme.”
Achievements for 2017/18 include completing a comprehensive three-year research programme in partnership with other entities. This includes an extensive science programme to understand Southland’s physical geography, how our water and land systems interact, and the causes of variable water quality. As well, the economic project explored the impact of potential policies for improving water quality on industry, business and the wider community.
The proposed Southland Water and Land Plan is a significant piece of work that has been progressed to the appeals stage of the process. The rules in this plan aim to prevent any further deterioration in water quality by addressing the issues we know have a negative impact on water quality.
Some other highlights include an increased emphasis on biodiversity and the continuing success of our biosecurity programme incorporating the activation of the Fiordland Marine Regional Pathway Management Plan, and the development of a proposed pest management plan and biosecurity strategy; the formalising of the Whakamana te Waituna programme with additional partners and securing $5m of Government funding; the completion of 220 new farm plans covering more than 82,600 hectares; and the continuation of our air quality promotion and Clean Air Loans scheme.
Financially, we can report an operating surplus of $2.27 million, which is better than expected; we had budgeted for a deficit of $1.66 million. This improvement was due to higher than expected investment returns ($1.5m), government grants ($1.255m), and increased income from local contributions and compliance recoveries ($477,000). Additionally, $600,000 of unfinished work – mostly in science and regional planning – was carried forward to the 2018/19 year.
While Environment Southland’s balance sheet remains strong with significant reserves underpinned by investments, the balance of those reserves is changing, with the disaster or specific purpose reserves increasing and the general purpose reserves declining.
The specific purpose reserves are tagged primarily for responses to disaster events such as floods. The general purpose reserve is used to support our work programmes. In the past the Council has regularly drawn on this reserve to help fund work and to reduce rate increases. However, the Council was mindful in its development of the Long-term Plan 2018-2028 that this approach was not sustainable over the long term.
The Council has no long-term debt, and has a range of funding sources including levies and contributions, fees and charges, rental income, investment income, rates, and South Port NZ Ltd dividends from the Council’s 66.48% shareholding which are used to reduce rate increases.
The Annual Report 2017/18 and the Annual Report Overview 2017/18 are available on Environment Southland’s website or from our offices, telephone 0800 76 88 45.