The 2020 Local Government Financial Audit Report has highlighted Bundaberg Regional Council’s sound position and strong performance in a difficult COVID-impacted year.
Tabled in Parliament yesterday, the report provides an independent assessment of the state’s 77 Councils along with recommendations for improvements.
Bundaberg Regional Council Finance portfolio spokesperson Cr Steve Cooper welcomed the findings.
“While the financial sustainability of some councils is considered at risk, Bundaberg Regional Council is in a very sound position,” Cr Cooper said.
“I would like to commend staff who are continuously improving Council processes and who have been instrumental in placing our community in such a sound financial position despite the impacts of the pandemic.”
Some of the recommendations for all Councils to come out of the report include improvements in financial reporting, valuation and asset management and risk management, strengthening information systems and enhancing procurement and contract management practices.
“We have been proactively addressing many of the items that were highlighted in the audit’s recommendations,” Cr Cooper said.
“We’re well placed in terms of the region’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic so it is pleasing that this report has identified us as being in one of the most solid positions of any Queensland Council.
“While we currently have a deficit budget, we were very fortunate to be in a good position prior to the COVID outbreak which has helped to limit the impacts on our community.”
Among the audit’s recommendations to the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning was the provision of greater certainty over long-term funding and training for councillors and senior leadership teams about financial governance.
In his foreword, Auditor-General Brendan Worrall said the COVID-19 pandemic had presented never-before-seen challenges for Local Government.
“Local councils are the first line of connection to communities; providing Queenslanders with essential services, which involves a high level of interaction,” Mr Worrall said.
“The resources councils needed to deliver these services were put under immense pressure.
“The task councils also faced in delivering on their financial reporting accountabilities should not be underestimated.
“I wish to recognise and thank them for their efforts.”
While COVID impacts were limited in Queensland in comparison to other states and countries, the Auditor-General stressed that local communities were not yet out of the woods.
“We do not know what 2021 will bring, but we know the impacts of the pandemic will be enduring for years to come,” Mr Worrall said.
“The state and federal governments have heavily relied on borrowings, to stimulate the Queensland and Australian economies.
“Councils will need to consider the impact of the pandemic to their overall sustainability and how they continue to provide the essential services to their communities in a cost affordable manner.”
The full report can be viewed here.
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