Carterton District Council is continuing to review its Long-Term Plan [LTP] after a review by the Office of the Auditor General [OAG] raised matters that require further changes.

As part of the LTP process and final audit review, an audit opinion is required to allow Council to adopt the Plan.

Council cannot provide elected representatives with the Plan to consider for approval without an audit opinion.

The delay to obtain a Council resolution to adopt the Plan means rates cannot be set for 2024/2025 and Council’s Fees and Charges for services remain at 2023/2024 levels. However, Council will receive a recommendation to adopt the Fees and Charges for 2024/2025 at the next Council meeting on Wednesday 31 July.

Geoff Hamilton, Chief Executive of Carterton District Council said considering an LTP which does not have an audit opinion does not provide Council or our Community with sufficient comfort that the numbers contained within the LTP are accurate.

“Given this, the only possible course of action is we go back and find the issue, quantify it, and fix it in the LTP.

“We also need audit to review the refreshed LTP and issue an audit opinion, before we bring the whole LTP back to Council for consideration. In short, we cannot continue on with the LTP in its’ current state.

“We will bring a paper to the 31 July Council meeting with an update and decisions we wish Council to consider. We will continue to work to resolve the issues with Audit NZ.

“For now, I’d like to focus on getting through this significant bump in the road and complete an LTP that is robust, accurate, audited and available to elected representatives with sufficient time for Council to consider adopting it.”

Due to legislation introduced during the last Parliament, Council has until 30 September this year to determine rates.

“At this stage our focus is ensuring continuity of service to our community and clarity over ratepayers’ billing,” Mr Hamilton said. “Completing the LTP is our highest priority.”

“I am confident we will receive an audit opinion from Audit NZ enabling Council to consider adoption of the LTP. We will be learning from this to improve our future long-term planning activities.”

Hon. Ron Mark, Mayor of Carterton, said the matters will require substantial work before Council can adopt, meaning he did not feel an extraordinary meeting this week would give sufficient time to consider the entire LTP document. The work requires significant effort from our team and a clean audit opinion by Audit NZ, before Council is able to consider adopting our LTP.

“We need to be pragmatic to provide a safer passage for the deliberations and for the adoption of the LTP.”

Council is next scheduled to meet on Wednesday 31 July.