Storm cost to city runs into millions

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 06/11/2012

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The December rain that caused major flooding and landslides throughout the region cost Nelson city $3.9 million in unbudgeted operating expenditure.

The city council's 2011-12 annual report shows the storm had a significant impact on the financial results for the year, but the cost was offset by emergency grants of $604,000 from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The council has reported a financial year with more than the usual highlights and challenges, helped by the 2011 Rugby World Cup and Port Nelson dividend, which boosted the local economy and the council's balance sheet, while the December floods stretched human and financial resources.

The annual report said Nelson's transport and stormwater activities were most badly affected by the rain and landslides. The diversion of staff to deal with the event impacted on regulatory services, which drove down income and expenditure.

Rates made up 56 per cent of the council's income, or almost $54m of the total $96m income. The remainder came from fees, charges, rent and grants.

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said the July 2011 year began with Rugby World Cup 2011, bringing Nelson more visitors and economic activity.

"Just before the end of 2011, Nelson was hit by a rainfall event that triggered widespread slips and damage to property and infrastructure, the impact of which is still being felt by many," he said.

Debt levels were $65.3m compared with $58.6m the previous year. It was below the $96.4m debt budgeted for the year, mainly because of delayed capital projects.

Capital expenditure was $1.5m below budget because of delays in the Maitai pipeline project and because of changed priorities following the December rainfall event response and recovery, the annual report said.

The value of assets managed by the council is now $1.2 billion.

"This term of council has also worked hard to minimise the rates burden, successfully reducing average rates rise to 3.5 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively in the last two years, with just 3.2 per cent forecast in the next financial year," Mr Miccio said.

The council highlighted major capital projects which have started, progressed or have been completed in the year as stage one of the Maitai duplicate pipeline, the cricket and athletics pavilion at Saxton Oval, community housing in Orchard St, the upgrade of St Vincent St and Jenner Rd, stormwater upgrades to Seymour Ave and Iwa Rd and construction of larger marina berths and improved facilities.

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- The Nelson Mail

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