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NZ Asset boost turns Auckland loss into big profit

Property Here - Tuesday, March 05, 2013

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New Zealand's largest territorial authority has dramatically reversed its financial position, turning an $88 million loss into a $478 million profit.

Auckland Council's latest accounts showed the huge surplus after tax for the December half-year because $385 million of assets were received from the Government. They were Auckland state highways, now classed as local roads by the Transport Agency.

The council said it had an underlying net operating surplus of $62 million for the half-year.

In its first full-year of operation, the council reported a $233 million after-tax loss, mainly because of unrealised costs from fixing future interest rates at low levels.

Chief executive Doug McKay said cost reductions of $131 million were achieved in the first two years from improved procurement, asset utilisation and operational efficiency.

Revenue increased by $78 million in the December half-year. Total operating expenditure was $1.3 billion and net finance costs rose by $24 million.

Total net assets had increased by $455 million since June, 2010.

Significant changes were noted in investment in property, plant and equipment of $618 million and a $96 million increase in cash and cash equivalents.

"This is offset by an increased debt level of $463 million used to fund the capital programme that includes the purchase of 135 Albert St for $104 million and roading infrastructure of $188 million," the council said.

Leaky building issues were cited in the notes to the financial statements. "In certain circumstances, the council may be liable for the cost of remedying commercial properties which have been issued a code of compliance but are found to have weathertightness issues.

"The council has no insurance cover for these claims," it said.

Rates revenue fell by $27 million to $745 million because $44 million of wastewater rates are now disclosed elsewhere in the statements.

McKay said introducing the single rating policy was a key achievement.