Council firm is to export’ services

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Queenstown council company Lakes Environmental is selling its expertise to other South Island local bodies. 

The regulatory contractor has annual ‘export earnings’ of around $200,000, LE boss Hamish Dobbie (right) says. 

“Every bit of work we do outside our area helps to pay the overhead costs of the business,” he says. 

Those overheads are $7 million and with local resource and building consents drying up, the not-for-profit firm faces a $45,000 pre-tax loss in its latest financial year to last month. 

As one part of its export drive, LE food-hygiene inspectors do restaurant and other food outlet checks for Central Otago District Council. 

A work-sharing deal has also been done with Dunedin City Council on processing building consents and doing on-site inspections, Dobbie says. 

That building-consent concept has also been rolled out to 11 other local councils south of Timaru, he adds: “Every other council in that group signed up for it.” 

If one council has a surge of work, they rope in staff from other councils, Dobbie explains. 

“Waitaki were short a few weeks ago so we had a man up there for three weeks and we’re also currently doing work for Selwyn District Council processing some of their building consents.” 

LE were exporting well before the National Government’s recent call for more resource-sharing by local bodies, Dobbie says. 

“We’ve been doing it for quite some time but I think councils in other areas are becoming more receptive as they receive a bit of pressure from Central Government,” he adds. 

The initiative will continue, he says: “We’re always on the lookout to see what we can do.”