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$17 million of unexpected investment from Central Government

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has just adopted their 2020-2021 Annual Report showing an operating surplus of $9.4m based on strong population growth, record consenting numbers and significant external funding. During last week’s Council meeting, Mayor Alex Walker and Councillors reflected on the unprecedented growth of the District and spoke about the positive work demonstrated in the report, as well as the impact that external funding has had on the district. “This report presents a financial picture which is completely different to where the 2018 Long Term Plan originally forecast. Extraordinary population growth, rate of property development and levels of external funding have completely blown original budget expectations out of the water,” said Alex Walker, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay. “The 2018 Long Term Plan had #thebigwaterstory at its heart and as a Council we identified some very important objectives set out as part of Project Thrive, particularly when it came to the concept of “Durable Infrastructure”. For a small community that is challenged by rates affordability it was vital that our investment was spent wisely and we have delivered consistently on a large capital investment programme for the past three years.” The Annual Report shows that Central Hawke’s Bay has also seen building consents for new dwellings up by 13% on last financial year and resource consent lots for creation up by 247% on last financial year. The District also attracted over $17 million of unexpected investment from Central Government has meant several community initiatives have been accelerated, including the development of the Knowledge and Learning Hub - Te Huinga Wai through Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, job funding to support employment through the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs, and $11.3 million additional funding for three waters infrastructure and services.  In response to the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 and the drought, Council maintained level of service and access to essential lifelines, while ensuring community members remained the priority through the course of both events. This included adopting and actioning a ‘network of networks’ approach, recognising, enabling and advocating for the community to be the leaders in ensuring strong and resilient whānau, households, farms and businesses. The Annual Report outlines both the Council’s financial and non-financial performance throughout the year. The 2020/21 year-end operating result was a surplus of $9.4 million, which was $10.3 million above budget. The main driver for the improved result was the higher than expected external funding Council received.