First council for third year

Narrandera Shire Council

For the third consecutive year, Narrandera Shire is the first General Purpose Council in New South Wales to submit its audited financial statements.

Given there are over 120 councils, this is an accomplishment that reflects a coordinated effort.

“It’s an achievement across the whole organisation,” said George Cowan, General Manager of Narrandera Shire Council.

“Once again the Shire demonstrates its fiscal responsibility and, even more importantly, the Council’s overall financial position is reflected in the reports as sound.”

This means Council is well-equipped to meet the reasonable needs of residents into the future.

“Thank you to everyone who assisted by submitting invoices, providing information, attending to requests, etc. It really is a team effort and without your help this would be difficult to achieve,” wrote Bec Best, Finance Manager, in her email to staff.

The Finance team achieved a timely and unqualified audit result, with the Auditor General confirming “no significant audit issues or observations were noted during my audit of the Council’s financial statements.”

“The process is comparable to landing a Boeing 747,” said Martin Hiscox, Council’s Deputy General Manager Corporate & Community.

“The timeline is determined months in advance followed by a process of checks and hold points to ensure you arrive at the scheduled time.”

Each council in the state has four months after the end of the financial year on 30 June to submit their Financial Statements to the NSW Auditor General, and in recent years Narrandera Shire has delivered its Statements document in about half that time.

“We have very good systems, and all the members of the staff contribute to meeting the milestones at the dates established with the Auditor,” said Mr Hiscox.

“The focus from the statements demonstrates the operating result for the year and the capacity of Council to operate into the future and meet its longer-term financial obligations.”

This includes achieving all financial benchmarks, except for the “own source revenue” target of 60%.

“We have limited control over our rates and revenue; however, Council has achieved funding through other external streams, predominantly grants, which has skewed this result.”

Much of this funding contributes to maintaining roads, which are the largest category by value, at around half of all assets held by Narrandera Shire.

The Financial Statements also show the renewal/replacement of $9 million in assets, as well as construction worth $8.7 million in new assets.

“It is something of a double-edged sword. Creation of new assets leads to new obligations for operating and maintaining them,” said Mr Hiscox.

However, Council balances the expectations of the community with financial capability and extensive planning.

The audited Financial Statements will be presented to councillors at the meeting on 21 September.

During the public forum prior to that Council meeting there will be presentations from the NSW Audit Office reviewing the Financial Statements and the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee annual report presented by the Committee Chairperson Mr John Batchelor.

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