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Sunday
Feb272011

Council Accounts

There was a great leap forward in the transparency standard of accounts reporting during the previous Council, and the current Council will reap the benefit. This was due in the main to the efforts of the then new Financial Controller Steve Baker, who to this day reports to the CEO through the Group Manager, Support Services - Pam Howat (a similarly qualified Chartered Accountant).

This arrangement is not one that would normallly be supported these days in standard management manuals, but appears to have historical precedence at TCDC. It does mean that in theory, the Council can only get at the Financial Controller through the Group Manager, and that detracts from transparency, though in practice it appears to operate satisfactorily.

There are some aspects of the reporting procedure that do leave room for improvement. In particular, I believe that the major changes in funding arrangements, such as appear to be the case this month, and reported without explanation in the accounts to be presented to Council on Wednesday, are not transparent. 

These include major changes to committed loan facilities, and the 12 month debt forecast. In addition, there are clearly major changes to terms, apparently resulting from recent funder negotiations, that  appear without explanation on graphs.  I am sure that Mr Baker will be quite capable of explaining  these important changes on Wednesday, but the document is public, and should convey the information in a totally transparent manner with full explanation.

I have a further minor complaint relating to the absence from the accounts of the usual sundry debtor aged analysis. This may simply be an oversight, but it is an governance tool that should not be absent. Councillors are entitled (as is the general public) to have this information available, especially in these times, and with the constant danger of Development Contributions falling further and further from view as developers continue to go under.

 

 

 

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