Tauranga City Council has adopted its annual report for 2019/20 – a year dominated by citywide growth and the local impacts of a global pandemic.
It was also a year in which Tauranga’s population exceeded 146,000, the number of homes nudged 55,000.
The annual report reviews these factors among a wealth of information about the work Council carried out between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, as well as the council’s finances.
The mayor and councillors approved the annual report at a meeting this week.
The council’s challenges included the discovery of flaws with the Harington St Transport Hub and the burgeoning costs of investing in infrastructure to manage the city’s rapid growth.
Mayor Tenby Powell says much has been achieved despite a difficult time with COVID-19.
“The report shows that our city continues to grow quickly, which is encouraging in the long-term for jobs and our local economy.
“However, we must remember that a lot of families and businesses are hurting from the financial impacts of COVID, and it’s still too early to know if we’re past the worst.”
Powell says although the annual report focused on the past year, it highlights the need to make good decisions now to cater for continuing growth over the next 10 years and beyond.
“This is a discussion we will have with our community early next year, during consultation for our Long-term Plan 2021-31.”
The annual report is a key document for public accountability.
It includes the council’s financial and operational performance in relation to its budget, its progress in relation to the city’s long-term plan, and whether it provided the quality of services it had been aiming for.
Financially, the report says the council had assets of $4.6 billion, a net debt of $525 million, and a debt-to-revenue ratio of 206 per cent.
The council’s financial results reflect substantial capital expenditure and associated debt.
The council has faced challenges meeting its revenue budgets, and has incurred unbudgeted expenditure because of COVID-19 and financial risks related to its core business.
Despite these challenges, the council delivered $147m of new infrastructure and other assets for the city.
Most of this was for transportation and the so-called ‘three waters’, including development of the new water supply at Waiāri.
The council used rates revenue of $180m and other revenue from fees and charges to deliver core services to the community throughout the year, including during the lockdown.
Consents for buildings, including new dwellings, have remained at relatively high levels despite the disruptions from COVID-19.
The report and a summary version will be made available from city libraries, the council’s 91 Willow St service centre and its website within the next 30 days.
Among other highlights:
• the council worked alongside iwi to repair the Mauao Base Track, achieving this under the revised budget and in time for last summer’s busy tourist season
• council libraries handled a 92% increase of digital downloads during the Covid lockdown
• Durham St and Durham Lane opened after a major project to make them more attractive and welcoming
• the Kopurererua Valley cycle and walkway opened, with 6km of new or upgraded track
• ‘shared crossings’ were introduced for pedestrians and cyclists
• the new Waiāri Water Supply Scheme achieved several milestones towards its completion
• our kerbside and transfer station services collected 6300 tonnes of glass for recycling.