Waimate Council budget under pressure

Waimate District Council expects to be $350,000 behind budget at the end of the financial year following legal action and extensive damage to forestry.

Financial officer Graham Durston presented his finance report for the four months to November yesterday.

"At this stage I am expecting that we will be approximately $350,000 down on our budget and incurring a larger deficit than expected.

"This is due partly to the unknown element of forestry valuation following the damage to some of our forest areas in the September 10 storm.

"What is also unknown is the sales revenue that may be generated from the harvesting of these forest areas which will also be offset by the current holding value of those areas. Additionally the court case settlement and cost incurred impacts on our forecast."

Mr Durston was referring to the ongoing legal bill in the council's battle with Waimate businessman Keith Williams.

A breakdown of financial performance for the four-month period showed $130,000 in legal fees.

The council had recorded a surplus of $561,000 for the period while the budgeted surplus had been $781,000, leaving it $220,000 below budget on October 31.

Mayor Craig Rowley did not comment on the legal fees.

He did say the cost of damage to forestry following the September storms would run into "several hundred thousand in costs".

The Timaru Herald