Council members had a group photo after last October’s local body elections: Cr Andy Campbell (Westland), left, Cr Peter Ewen (Grey), Cr Peter Haddock (Westland), chief executive Heather Mabin, Cr Allan Birchfield (Grey), Cr Frank Dooley (Buller), Cr Mark McIntyre (Buller), Cr Brett Cummings (Grey).
The West Coast Regional Council faces “another very challenging year,” according to Risk and Assurance Committee chairman Frank Dooley.
The committee met on Tuesday for five-and-a-half hours as it received an update on the council’s investment portfolio, got a closed door briefing on the draft 2022 annual report, endorsed a health and safety charter and teased out a schedule of workshops for the forthcoming annual plan.
The council also has received tens of millions of dollars for ‘shovel ready’ projects and other publicly funded infrastructure projects to clear and show progress on in the coming year.
Councillors workshopped the 2022 annual report for about three hours and it will be adopted next week at the first formal council meeting of the year.
Cr Dooley thanked council staff for their work to get it over the line while working under pressure.
“It’s really comforting to know we’re going to be able to sign off next week. I know it’s six weeks behind our statutory deadline, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”
An earlier briefing by council investment portfolio advisers J B Were explained the rationale of having a diversified portfolio both domestically and internationally.
Cr Dooley said the presentation was good from a risk perspective and explained the benefits of a diversified portfolio, although the council had a responsibility “to keep oversight”.
He had asked management to also present a profile of the council’s liabilities in the coming months.
The council had previously been briefed mid-year on liabilities, currently $12.25 million.
J B Were advisers told the council the focus was on spreading risk, over-riding the tendency for investors to just focus on returns, hence a diverse portfolio held by the council.
The past three years had been particularly challenging with inflationary pressure in the international and domestic economy but the portfolio had rendered a “reasonable” return of 11.5 percent in that period; the performance benchmark was 6%.
Returns should be better over the next year, advisers said.
In the past, the regional council has used the investment portfolio to subsidise its activities in lieu of rates – with the average drawdown, until two years ago, being $350,000 every six months, or $2.8m in total.
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Story Credit: rnz.co.nz