False claims made about Council financial statements

21 Sep 2018

The net operating result recorded by the City of Newcastle for the 2017/18 financial year will be officially reported to Councillors at the October monthly meeting once the Audit Office of NSW has issued its independent auditors report on the end of year financial statements.

Like all local Councils, City of Newcastle does not issue an end-of-June financial statement in July but rather general purpose and special purpose financial statements in October.

An accurate end of year result can only be determined once Council’s general purpose and special purpose financial statements have been audited by the Audit Office of NSW.

Council, like many large organisations, continues to receive invoices in the first few weeks of July for the previous financial year, which often amount to millions of dollars. Issuing a 30 June figure in July would require Council issuing financial information it knows to be incorrect by likely millions of dollars.

Councillors were confidentially advised of the preliminary end of year financial position more than a month ago on 14 August.

Council’s Audit and Risk Committee, which is independently chaired, will be presented the audited end of year financial position on 11 October.

All councillors were advised last month that they will also receive a presentation of the audited financial statements by the Audit Office of NSW on 16 October.

City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said Cr Church’s claim that Council had refused to release the EOY preliminary figure was incorrect.

“Ten councillors attended a workshop on 14 of August where the preliminary end of year figure was shared with them. Councillors were informed that Council had delivered a budget surplus as forecast every month for the past year. Cr Church was at that workshop so his claim we have refused to release the figures is baffling and incorrect.

“I have a responsibility as the CEO of City of Newcastle to ensure that information I provide to Councillors is both accurate and of a nature allowing them to competently carry out their duties.

“It serves no purpose to issue to Councillors and the public an end of June financial position in July which will not be accurate given we are only then commencing the end of year auditing process and which takes more than two months to complete.

“To ensure Councillors are informed of how the audit process is faring, they were updated on the 14th of August with a preliminary end of year figure.

“Further, it should be noted that I wrote to all councillors on 28 June informing them of the end of year reporting process and timetable. Cr Church, like all councillors, offered no response to this, instead waiting a full month until the Council meeting at the end of July to express concern.

“Separately, Council has forecast a $6.5 million budget surplus for 2018/19. It remains on track to deliver this,” Mr Bath said.