Council bullish over $30m deficit

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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Christchurch City Council staff are confident they can claw back the forecast $30 million operating deficit.

The council was expecting to post an operating deficit in the 2013-14 year of $17.5m but a report presented to the finance committee yesterday shows the forecast deficit has ballooned to $30.5m.

That is partly because since the council was stripped of its accreditation to issue building consents in July, it has incurred significant costs that were not anticipated when its budget was approved in June.

It has had to find $4m for the Crown Manager's review of its building operations and a further $1m for professional negligence insurance.

At the same time it has also had to find extra money for the District Plan review ($1m), earthquake-related rates remissions ($1.4m), information technology ($1m) and debt servicing ($2.8m).

Some of the revenue it was banking on getting has dropped. Slower than forecast residential growth has led to less income from rates than expected, the closure of council social housing units has resulted in less rental income, fees are down from building inspections, and it is earning less interest than forecast on its investments.

Acting corporate services general manager Dianne Brandish said staff had been instructed to try to find savings and she was confident the final operating deficit for the year would be close to the budgeted figure.

"We will certainly pull this back and we expect to be in a neutral position by the end of the year," Brandish said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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