Audit report pleases council

Bruce Robertson

Audit New Zealand billed Waipā District Council $233,469 to conduct its annual audit and provide a management report to the Audit and Risk committee.

The committee this week received the report, which has three new formal recommendations, one urgent, one necessary and one beneficial, and cleared four earlier recommendations.

Six others stay open.

Ken Morris

Deputy chief executive Ken Morris told the committee he was “really pleased” with the report and to see four historic items cleared out.

The urgent new one was a recommendation to implement a process that ensures frequent checks are made to the council’s fixed asset register.

The process would capture the additions and disposals of assets promptly.

In its response council’s management said its “quickly addressed” this issue as soon as it became aware of its significance.

The second necessary recommendation to the council was for it to correctly capture transactions in the correct financial year.

Management said this was a normal business risk around year end close off periods and was not aware of any significant cut off issues.

“Management maintains that no financial year is materially misstated due to this.”

The final beneficial recommendation was a suggestion the council improve its capital commitment record keeping so it could track and report on commitments in a more efficient and accurate way.

Management said it would do that.

Audit chair Bruce Robertson said it was still “particularly irksome” to see mention of incomplete interest declarations. While there had been a significant reduction in the number of interests not disclosed, there were still some, according to Audit NZ.

Meanwhile the committee approved a process to appoint a new chair to the committee. The term for Robertson, the current independent chair – who is also on Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Southland, Far North and Thames-Coromandel local authorities’ audit and risk committees – finishes in 2025.

Waipā Business Resilience and Risk advisor Genny Wilson said the Office of the Auditor General’s suggestion was that district and regional councils should stagger members’ terms, so they overlapped.

That would require an added cost of $12,000 for six meetings plus travel.

Susan O’Regan

Waipā will go to the market next year – through an advertisement on the Institute of Directors website – for a new independent chair.

“A general Expressions of Interest or tender approach will not be used as this is not sufficiently targeted and may attract candidates without the necessary skills and expertise, or alternatively consultancies proposing an appointment that will not be cost effective,” she said.

Advertising will start in February.

Staff will compile a long list for mayor Susan O’Regan, Robertson and Business Support group manager Ken Morris to whittle down into a short list.

Ideally the first meeting for the new appointee would be in June next year, said Wilson.

See: Audit: favourable, work to do.

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