Funding ‘timing issues’ cause budget problems

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Top up... The remaining $1.10 million of government funding to help transform the James Cumming Wing into a new library and community rooms will leave Gore District Council in a better position at the end of its financial year. PHOTO: FILE

Off budget by $1.68 million at the end of 2021, Gore District Council is waiting on funding to help close the gap before the end of its financial year.

A six-month report from chief financial officer Lornae Straith was tabled at a full council meeting earlier this month by chief executive Stephen Parry.

Mr Parry said Ms Straith “was pretty comfortable with where we’re at at this point in time in the financial year”.

“There’s obviously some timing issues and they can be quite heavily distorted when you’ve got large amounts of external funding that we are receiving this year,” he said.

Ms Straith said in her report that the council had received stimulus funding for Three Waters and solid waste, plus an additional $500,000 from the Government to assist people into employment, yet overall revenue was still $787,000 lower than budgeted during the last six months of 2021.

This was largely because, until March, $1.10 million of government funding for the library and community rooms redevelopment had not yet been accessible.

Another $905,000 was due to be received for roading from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, she said.

“The subsidy from Waka Kotahi is requested after the work is completed, and the capital programme is behind where the council had budgeted it to be.”

Timing was also a factor for expenditure, which was $896,000 over budget.

The council’s IT department spent an additional $158,000, “partially due to timing differences and partially due to new software being brought on-stream for various departments.

“The support agreements have also been important in the absence of an IT manager.”

Such staff vacancies added to expenditure, Ms Straith said.

This included a general manager of infrastructure, a management accountant and a senior planner.

“In some of these departments, the cost of contractors and/or consultants is higher than budget to assist in filling the gaps that these vacancies create.”

Other unbudgeted costs included $151,000 towards the Hokonui Moonshine Museum redevelopment, $48,000 in audit fees for the council’s long term plan and an extra $90,000 in legal fees.

Insurance costs of $393,000 were higher than budgeted due to a “budget phasing error”.

Overall the council ended 2021 with an operating surplus of $563,000 instead of its budgeted $2.246 million, Ms Straith said.