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$5m surplus in covid’s shadow

MTLT Board of Trustees. Gary Caffell, Tom Hullena, Frazer Mailman, Christine Brewster, John Bunny, Leanne Southey, Sandy Ryan, Bex Johnson. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Masterton Trust Lands Trust announced a multi-million surplus in its annual report but warned of uncertainty over covid-19 and was waiting on the outcome of long-running legal proceedings over several new buildings.

In its 2019/20 wrap made public on Monday, the publicly-owned property management organisation showed a $5.2 million surplus for the year to March 31, up 13.4 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Income from rents rose to $5.1 million, up 0.6 per cent, and the value of its assets grew by 6.3 per cent to $74.3 million.

But the buoyant figures come with a sting in the tail.

The final 10 days of the trust’s financial year coincided with the covid-19 lockdown.

In the report, trust chairwoman Leanne Southey said the pandemic “presented a significant risk to the trust’s operations”.

“The financial support that was provided to our tenants during this time is likely to have an impact on our property development and maintenance programme for the coming year.”

In April, the trust announced a temporary rent abatement to tenants, often up to 67 per cent of one month’s rent, as they locked doors during the Alert Level 4.

Its investment properties were valued in the report’s financial statements at $72.2 million, but covid-19 has caused “significant market uncertainty”, it read.

The trust has set aside some of this year’s surplus to open a new grant, a one-off covid-19 community support fund of $50,000 to contribute to the regional pandemic recovery.

The grants were open to non-profit organisations that provided community support services.

“The trust recognises the huge impact covid-19 has had on the Masterton community and our local economy,” Southey said.

“Through these grants, we hope to assist local agencies to help those in our community that need support during this challenging time.”

A community education grants fund, of $125,000, remained open to applications until the end of August.

Its outgoings in grants rose $902,592 [up 15.2 per cent].

The trust continued to work on a seismic review and remediation design as further fallout of the 2016 findings on several of its recently-erected retail properties.

The trust paid out $712,878 this year, up from $522,769 in 2018/19 in upgrades as the legal processes for several of the trust’s buildings continues.

The trust is a plaintiff in several litigation proceedings due to several of its buildings not meeting NZBC requirements at the time of design and consenting.

“As a result, the trust continues to engage a range of consultants [including lawyers] as it works through this process,” the report said.

The process was expected to take another year to resolve.

The trust also repaid $500,000 of debt during the year, as part of a resilience and debt reduction path outlined in its long-term strategy, launched in 2019.

Applications for the covid-19 grant are open now, and the window for the trust’s community education grant closes next Monday.

Visit the MTLT website – www.mtlt.org.nz – for information and application forms.

MTLT year in numbers

Surplus: $5.2 million

Rental income: $5.1 million

Total assets: $74.3 million

Equity: $51.5 million

Debt to debt plus equity: 30.5 per cent

Number of tenants: 89

Total grants: $902,592 [up 15.2 per cent]

Grant distribution: Education grants $277,354; Civic grants $18,000; Concessional rent grants: $607,238.

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