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Mayor raises question of shortfall in capital spend

Concern capital expenditure for the financial year was down by $10 million at the end of March was expressed by Mayor Meng Foon at the Gisborne District Council full council meeting.

Mr Foon was commenting on the fact that by the end of March, $19.7 million of the $29.9 million in the annual plan had been spent.

He asked when the council would catch up because capital expenditure was expected by the community to be spent when it had been promised to them.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said they were hoping to see this variance closed down.

Gisborne was punching above its weight nationally in delivering what they had planned.

Mr Foon said that when you set the budget all that depreciation, the cost of interest and the resources to perform the job were actually paid for and, more importantly, rated for.

He referred to a previous budget from a previous chief executive in which the council was going to spend $45 to $50 million.

“We were never going to spend $45 to $50 million, we got down to $20m or something like that but if you still can’t spend it because the resources are not available or it takes too long to get resource consents, then we should realistically reduce that so that it does not actually impinge on the ratepayers immediately.

“We have got to be fair to the ratepayers,” he said.

Rehette Stoltz said a lot of the money in the capital expenditure budget was from capital grants so the council only spent that money once the project started. It was not money that was taken from the ratepayers that the council was just sitting on.

Pat Seymour said this had been thrashed out at the recent finance committee meeting where there was a serious conversation about whether that $10 million would be spent.

As the mayor had said, it was not capital but what was rated to sustain that capital.

But the council did get an assurance from council officers at the meeting that a substantial amount of the work would be completed. It was a case of watch this space.