WDC budget management criticized | Otago Daily Times News Online
A budget decision was criticized at Waitaki District Council’s first public workshop last week.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved carrying forward unfinished work from the 2021-22 fiscal year, totaling $19.8 million, for the asset group. A report said the work would be added to the current capital delivery program of $57.2 million, creating a total delivery program for fiscal year 2022-23 of $77 million.
But at Tuesday’s business update meeting, Cr Jim Hopkins questioned the reality of being able to spend $77m on the capital delivery program when the council hadn’t spent its budget fixed assets in the previous year.
The report says it was difficult for staff and contractors to meet existing service levels, due to pressures such as inflation and uncertainty about the availability of materials.
There would have to be a trade-off between work delivered and service level expectations to try to resolve “budget misalignment”.
Cr Hopkins wanted to know when the board would sit down and seriously consider the matter.
“The idea of doing $77 million in work this year, you tell us, is unrealistic,” Cr Hopkins said, citing the report.
He did not follow the logic of creating the same problem in the new fiscal year by carrying over money that the board could not spend.
The asset group’s acting head Paul Hope said he challenged his managers to come up with a realistic agenda “on what can be developed, what can be brought forward and what really needs to be deferred” .
Developing the carry forward list for next year was important, as was having a thorough discussion with the new board about the state of affairs for the annual plan.
Cr Melanie Tavendale said the unpredictability of events had to be taken into account when considering capital expenditure.
“If you look at the three weather events that recently happened bang, bang, bang and the resulting workload, it takes time for staff to understand what that means before resuming the work schedule,” said Credit Tavendale.
“I think we have to realize that we live in a human environment with interesting factors.”