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A Year Of Adaption Proves Successful

Council has adopted the Annual Report for the 2019/20 year. The report outlines the performance of the Council for the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. The Council also adopted the Summary Annual Report.

As Hurunui District Council (HDC) entered the financial year, the focus for the district was about building stability.

The goal was about creating a strong base for the community to drive innovation and growth in the

district, while continuing to recover from the November 2016 earthquake.

It comes as no surprise that the presence of COVID-19 created many acts of quick thinking, changes and alterations of direction for HDC. The effects of lock down levels four and three had an immediate effect on the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, with the Complex having to close its doors from March 22 through to late May.

Council’s revenue for the year was $45 million, some $5 million down on the budgeted level for the year with the greatest impact relating to the revenue generated by the Thermal Pools. The Council’s operating expenditure was $2.5 million down on budget to offset the lost revenue, but Council still recorded a $1.1 million deficit for the year, which was $2.5 million lower than the budget provided for.

Despite the challenges that COVID- 19 has presented, Chief Financial Officer Jason Beck said the Council has continued to make progress particularly on completing its capital programme.

He added that the uncertainty that the lock down period created meant that the financial planning for the 2020/21 year had to err on the side of caution, resulting in a very conservative profit forecast for the Pools. As Council actively uses a portion of the profits to offset rates, that had an effect on the rates charged for the 2020/21 year.

“The financial performance of the Thermal Pools has thankfully been extremely positive since the country emerged from lock down. If we have no further restrictions in place, it is very likely that the summer period could be one of the best on record,” he said.

This result, coupled with a range of funding provided from Central Government to stimulate the economy after the COVID-19 period, has created confidence that the Hurunui community will continue to pull out of the period in a strong position.

Despite this, Council remains very mindful that there will be ratepayers that are suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the very early stages of the pandemic, the Council approved a Rates Deferment Policy which was developed to provide some relief for ratepayers.

“While it does not reduce the rates due, it does provide additional time to meet the rates payments.”

Council is about to undertake its Long Term Planning process for the 2021-31 period.

Beck said this is a critical component of the Council’s planning for the current term of Council and the community will have an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution in assessing the long term direction of the Hurunui District.

“We have proved we are adaptable, and with a considered team effort have achieved a positive outcome for the district.”

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