Council to review procedures

COFFS Harbour City Council has a packed agenda for Thursday’s council meeting, the first since September 9.

The first item on the agenda will be the review of the reports and further information on the refurbishment and accommodation for Rigby House and the council’s administration office.

This work led to serious questions being raised about the funding of the project by councillors and members of the public.

The report shows that $923,406 worth of work was carried out on refurbishing the two buildings, of which $98,251 was provided by council as part of revotes in September 2009 but $825,155 of the work occurred without prior approval being sought from council.

As a result a number of reviews are recommended.

These include a review of council’s procurement manual; a review of creditor processes; a review of financial reporting processes to managers and the executive and a review of council’s asset management systems and service provision mechanisms.

The report concludes:

“It is evident that some of the fundamentals for the effective operation of council were lacking in relation to the office accommodation project; approval of expenditure by council prior to works commencing; effective planning, particularly in relation to documenting estimates and approvals and also in the execution phase in relation to formal reporting and monitoring of costs.”

There are a number of key improvements identified in the implementation plan.

“Progress on the plan will be monitored and reported back to council to provide confidence that these problems will not happen again.”

On the plus side, the report concluded that the work was within the budget estimates prepared by staff; the work had rationalised council’s office accommodation; had resulted in an annual saving of $203,000; was completed by staff who had ‘substantial extra responsibilities as a result of the November 2009 flood’ and was completed within very tight time frames and with minimal disruption to council staff.

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