A 2016/17 audit of all NZ councils is being welcomed by Chair of the Operations and Finance Committee, Waikanae Ward Councillor Michael Scott.
The Auditor General’s annual report on the audits was tabled in Parliament this month. The report identifies highlights, emerging trends and identifies issues that may need a stronger focus, either by local government or parliament.
Councillor Michael Scott says the report highlights some challenges for local government to respond to and in Kāpiti it’s pleasing to see we’re already ahead of the game.
“We have a number of initiatives and strategies already underway through our long term plan processes that address some of the key themes the report identifies as important focus areas for local councils. This includes looking at rating practices, investing at an appropriate level in assets, along with risk assessment and planning for natural hazards,” Cr Scott said.
A common concern in recent year’s reports has been whether councils investing in their assets to the right level.
“In terms of investing in our assets, we are taking a long hard look at how we get the balance right with strong management of our ongoing financial strategy,” Cr Scott said.
“That’s all about learning to live within our means, so that we manage debt levels while continuing to invest in the right infrastructure improvements at the right time.”
“Our infrastructure strategy sits neatly alongside this financial work, as we do our risk assessment for the future and look at how our stormwater programme can meet the climate change challenges of further reducing flood risks in Kāpiti.”
The report says: "We continue to be concerned that local authorities might not be investing enough to ensure ongoing delivery of services. We recognise that we cannot make firm conclusions using financial information alone and that each local authority has different circumstances. However, where underinvestment occurs beyond the short term, service levels may not be maintained in the future as the risks of asset failure increase."
"Relevant and reliable information about assets remains a challenge for local authorities. Without good information about assets, elected members cannot make good decisions about whether they are spending the right amount at the right time on the assets they govern."
The full report is available here.
Consultation on the Long Term Plan 2018-2038 for Kāpiti closes on 23 April at 5pm.