Thursday, April 25, 2024

Waitaki council rated ‘BBB’

Waitaki District Council has received a very positive ‘BBB’ rating in their first ever CouncilMARK™ assessment, earning praise for their long term thinking and saving for future infrastructure renewals, while receiving a range of recommendations to address challenges around the region’s changing population, demographics and economy.

CouncilMARK™ is an independent assessment programme that assesses how councils are performing and is designed to support individual councils to improve the service and value they provide.  Councils receive an overall performance rating from the Independent Assessment Board (IAB), from C to AAA, as well as commentary on their performance across four key areas.

LGNZ President Stuart Crosby said CouncilMARK™ report shows a united council working towards a common goal.

“Waitaki ratepayers should be pleased that the council have both put themselves under the CouncilMARK™ microscope, and that they’ve come out with a very good result.”

“What stands out to me is that the assessor has found elected members and council staff have a shared, common purpose, to make a great district even better.”

“Having no debt and $35 million of investment assets puts the Council and the community in a strong position for the future, and they should be commended for that.”

The report found that the council had an excellent balance sheet due to a long-term policy of rating for asset usage and putting those funds aside for the future.

“Waitaki District Council has managed its activities prudently over the years, and their decision to rate for depreciation has put it in a great financial position,” said IAB Chair Toby Stevenson. 

“On top of that, they’ve got real strength in their people, and well organised delivery of core road and water functions.”

“However, as with almost every area of New Zealand, the trifecta of a growing populations, increasing standards and aging infrastructure will challenge the council’s ability to keep rates down, and there will likely be increases to meet these challenges.”

The report found that council staff had a good idea of the asset renewals required, but identified that key systems need to be integrated, namely asset management and financial systems, which currently sit apart.

“Upgrading back-end systems so that they are speak to each other will help the council make the best possible decisions, and help them share the best possible information with the community,” continued Mr Stevenson.

“The council also delivers wide array of economic development activity, by leveraging their depreciation reserves to provide loans for community-oriented projects that may well not have happened otherwise.”

“There is community demand for this economic development assistance, and the financial position of the council is healthy, but the IAB has recommended a range of improvements, such as the consideration of an independent chair of the Performance, Audit and Risk Committee, and a full risk profile on lending,” concluded Mr Stevenson.

To read the report, visit www.councilmark.co.nz.

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