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Sunday
Jan302011

Audit Committee

The two Councillors appointed to the Audit Committee - Tony Fox and Jan Bartley, obviously feel so out of their depth that two external members are being brought in to assist them to do the job when one has traditionally been considered adequate. These proposed appointments are contained in recommendations to go before the 3 February Meeting.

The first is Phillip Jones of Tauranga - a Chartered Accountant with considerable experience in local government and finance. Mr Jones replaces long standing member - Deloittes Hamilton Partner Graham Naylor. This is probably appropriate in view of Deloittes appointment as TCDC Internal Auditors during the last term. Despite efforts made to ensure a Chinese Wall, the perception of a conflict of Interest did remain. In fact, it is probable that Graham withdrew his own name from the process.

It seems likely, based on the experience outlined in his CV, that Phillip Jones will make a satisfactory replacement, though I would have to say, based on my own experience with Graham Naylor, that Council have lost an excellent Audit Committee member - particularly in view of the lack of experience of the two new Council members, and loss of continuity.

The appointment of Mr Keith Johnston - Chair of the Whangamata Community Board is of greater interest. It appears that he has been appointed at the personal request of Chairperson Tony Fox, presumably because of his own lack of experience in this role. This is understandable, but does provide a precedent, and causes some concern as to the ability of Council itself to keep track of what is going on. The Audit Committee has traditionally been the means by which council has been able to keep its finger on finances, particularly liabilities, risk and staff probity.

It has been perfectly obvious to any casual observer that councillors in the past have found this task onerous if not boring, and have rightly relied heavily on the Audit Committee to ensure proper governance processes were in place, and overseen. It is interesting that they now consider it necessary to bring in a Community Board Chair to assist in undertaking this task because of his "skills, knowledge and experience in financial management and community affairs", none of which is explained or detailed in the council paper (3.3) that contains the recommendation.

It is a reflection on the confidence and ability of elected councillors that they find it necessary to bring in such assistance from a Community Board, but I suppose anything is better than them taking on a role for which they clearly feel ill prepared.    

 

 

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Reader Comments (1)

There have been two Audit committee meetings since the election. At both I have asked, in the public forum, if the A.Com.
will ask the Auditor General to report on whether a past mayor is personally responsible for a TCDC expenditure of
$600,000 in error, because he signed a secret agreement with a company. This was never apparently ratified by a
meeting of Council.

May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood

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