Au­dit re­ports

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

THE 2013 Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil au­dited re­port is fi­nally avail­able. Fi­nan­cials may be bor­ing but the chair­man, di­rec­tors, CEO and man­agers need good num­bers to keep their jobs. I'm told the CFO says they’re "a best seller".

It sure is but for a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion. It con­firms Trea­sury and ratepay­ers were mis­led two months ear­lier (April 2013) when “cash was fore­casted ex­hausted” by FY 2013 and "fac­ing a $17m deficit". This "chicken lit­tle $100m debt cri­sis" fore­cast, was a ba­sis for $25m of loans, huge rate rises and charges. But in­stead of the sky fall­ing, we’ve $30+m ex­tra cash and $46 m turn­around to a $29m sur­plus! Best seller in­deed. But wait there's more.

The CFO said he'd lis­ten to me about em­ployee costs, ini­tially $6m then $2.5m over in unau­dited FY2013. Some­how he got au­di­tors to ac­cept only $0.3m over last years $27m. How come af­ter mas­sive man­age­ment re­cruit­ment/staff re­leases? Per­haps the an­swer is in a new cat­e­gory of $6.4m more for con­sul­tants and con­trac­tors? Wow and we thought only a “$853,000 ef­fi­ciency re­port”.

So af­ter an un­con­tested $18m NDRRA over­spend; $21m wa­ter and sew­er­age plus $6m Air­lie Beach over­spends, we’ve an ex­tra $6m for “con­sul­tants” - $50m+ of un-bud­geted costs. Fast for­ward Jan 2014, and we’ve al­ready drawn down a $10m loan, $6m of the ex­tra $12m pa rate in­creases and still have $7m cash.

With no sav­ings ap­par­ent doesn’t this tell you some­thing about the ac­counts this mob in­her­ited? Yep with only $18m ex­tra in­come the “fat” in the pre­vi­ous ac­counts ab­sorbed $50m of in­com­pe­tence. It tells me the pre­vi­ous regime fore­casted sur­pluses would’ve meant rate re­duc­tions within two years (in­stead of rate in­creases) if project and op­er­at­ing costs were com­pe­tently man­aged.

Yes we’ll re­turn to sur­plus in a year’s time, de­spite $50m of in­com­pe­tent man­age­ment; $30m of rec­om­mended NDRRA funds fore­gone but de­spite be­ing slugged at least 20 per cent pa ex­tra rates.

A good set of num­bers in­deed. John W Barnes BOWEN

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