Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council (CGRC) has requested an extension of time to 28 February 2022 for the submission of the 2020-2021 financial statements to the Office of Local Government. CGRC is not unique in this situation as many other councils have experienced similar delays.
The delay in preparing the final financial statements can be attributed to several matters.
Council’s auditors have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, with work being processed remotely, which puts added pressure on Council staff to provide documentation electronically.
The loss of key staff in the finance department, and suitably qualified staff to undertake the extra work placed on the department to adhere to the requirements now being required by the Auditor General’s Office.
Alignment of computer systems and computer software packages, to manage rate harmonisation, changes to fees and charges and the special rate variation required for accurate reporting.
Added to these issues, the Boundaries Commission has requested a review of the former demerge proposal, which has seen the department revisit and provide reports regarding Council’s financial position.
CGRC General Manager, Mr Phil McMurray and Interim Manager Finance and Customer Service Mr John Chapman have been working closely with Council’s auditor Crowe Australasia, Deloitte Financial Advisory Pty Ltd (acting for the NSW Boundaries Commission) and the Office of Local Government to ensure the audit process and financial statements are provided as quickly as possible and are adherent to regulations required.
“Council has experienced significant disruption due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions. Additionally, there have been substantial delays due to staff vacancies. Delays have been further compounded by flow-on effects of the requirement to allocate major staffing resources to the rate harmonisation project, application for approval of a special rates variation, together with the preparation (and subsequent review) of a business case supporting a demerger,” Mr McMurray said.
Mr Chapman added “The staff in the finance department have certainly risen to the task to provide information to the auditors and continue to do their day-to-day work. It’s been challenging, stimulating, and demanding, we have been doing our very best under the circumstances.”
It is expected the financial statements will be presented to the Office of Local Government by the extended due date 28 February 2022.