October 2018 - Chairman's Report

23 Oct 2018

Strategic issues

Projects

The September council meeting approved significant milestones in two long-running projects for the Northland Regional Council.

During the development of the Long Term Plan, council consulted on a new Regional Sports Facilities rate to provide funding for regionally significant sporting facilities.  One of the important criteria for funding is that projects must be on the Regional Sports Facilities Plan which has been developed by Sport Northland, sports associations and councils over a number of years.

It was really a significant milestone when the regional council decided on the allocating of $3.8 million of funding to the top two projects in each of the district council areas.  This allocation gives real certainty to the community groups planning and developing those facilities.

Indicative project image only.Indicative project image only.The second really important milestone for the council was approving the signing of a Heads of Agreement with our developer partners for the former Countdown supermarket site at Kensington in Whangārei.  This is another project that has taken some time, however, given the importance of the site and the significant investment that the council has in that site, it was really important to ensure that the interests of the community and ratepayers were fully protected and enhanced.

 

A further strategic project that the council is currently working on, but has not yet been approved, is with the Kaipara District Council.  The concept potentially involves building a new office building in Dargaville that will be capable of housing the staff of both the regional council and the Kaipara District Council.

Utilising shared premises makes a whole lot of good sense from the perspective of efficient use of public capital and further enhancing the collaboration of the two councils.

Financial Management

One of the really important initiatives that our council took in 2013, soon after I and other new councillors came onto the council, was to appoint an independent financial advisor, whose role is to provide independent financial advice to the councillors.

Whilst a number of our councillors do have business and financial management skills, it is still really important to have someone providing us with financial advice without being involved in the general decision-making of council.

Geoff Copstick has been a fantastic find for us.  He has a career background in financial and investment management in a number of areas, including the Hamilton-based International Gallagher Group.  Now living in Northland, and focusing on governance roles, Geoff has recently been appointed to the Board of Northland Inc.

In Geoff’s report to the council for inclusion in our 2017/18 Annual Report, he is very complimentary of the work that our finance team has done in collaboration with our new auditors, Deloitte.  This collaborative work has enabled us to trim superfluous material from the report while remaining fully compliant with all our audit requirements.

Planned further collaborative work will enable additional improvements to be made in the next financial year.

Ratepayers can be confident that the work of our independent financial advisor, combined with our new auditors, is helping to ensure that their council is managing its finances responsibly and prudently.