Council's finances get tick with debt well under cap

21:09, Aug 14 2014

Hamilton City Council has kept under its self-imposed debt ceiling and in the process bought itself financial wriggle room.

The council's finance committee was yesterday presented with council's financial results for the year to June which show overall debt sat at $383 million, well under the $440m cap.

The unaudited figures also show an $8.3m favourable movement toward the council's "balancing the books" target.

For the past financial year the council had expected costs to exceed revenue by $8.4m but instead registered a $100,000 deficit.

A key driver behind the favourable results was an increase in development contributions.

Council's accounting manager Iain Anderson said once "timing adjustments" were eliminated from the positive debt position, there had been a favourable permanent reduction in the city's debt of $33.7m.


Anderson told the committee $13.2m of projects were unable to be completed during the 2013-14 financial year due to external factors.

Ninety-seven per cent of deferred projects were under way.

The total value of deferred projects continued to trend downwards and was the lowest it had been in five years, Anderson said.

Asked by councillor Ewan Wilson if the council was on track to achieving $15.4m of cumulative efficiency savings by the end of this financial year, Anderson replied yes.

Meanwhile, councillors have approved a $2.8m contract to Quotable Value Ltd for rating valuation services in Hamilton, including a triennial revaluation in 2015.

Quotable Value is the current provider of rating valuation services in Hamilton.

Council staffer Scott Copeland said Quotable Value was the only organisation to submit a tender for the contract.

The approved contract term is set at three years with one right of renewal of three years subject to mutual agreement.

Yesterday's finance committee meeting also discussed the results of the council's climate survey, used to measure staff engagement.

Almost 90 per cent of staff responded to the survey which showed staff engagement at 21.3 per cent.

The engagement results are defined as engaged, ambivalent and disengaged.

The survey showed 18.6 per cent of staff were disengaged and 60.1 per cent were ambivalent.

Council staff member Alan Rex said the engagement level was the highest it had been for four years.

Councillor Martin Gallagher said the fact one-in-five staff were disengaged seemed "quite high" and could be reason for concern.

Council's organisational development general manager Olly Te Ua said the percentage of disengaged staff had dropped "significantly".

Two years ago, 24 per cent of staff were disengaged.

Staff turnover was 13.2 per cent, up from about 10.5 per cent in June, 2010.

Council chief executive Barry Harris said the current level of staff turnover was "normal and healthy" for an organisation the size of council.

Waikato Times