Concern West Coast council's annual report audit may be adopted under duress

5:30 pm on 2 December 2022
The West Coast Regional Council chambers at Paroa.

The West Coast Regional Council chambers at Paroa. Photo: Greymouth Star

A delay to the West Coast Regional Council's 2022 annual report audit has been flagged amid concerns councillors may have to adopt it under duress.

The December 13 statutory deadline for completing the 2022 audit and signing off the annual report is looming.

At the Risk and Assurance Committee last Friday, the committee agreed an extraordinary meeting would be required on December 7 so members had time to properly assess the draft audit "line by line", rather than only having time to 'rubber stamp' it.

Chairman Cr Frank Dooley said the immediate issue was the sign-off of the annual report for the year ending June 30, with the audit currently under way.

Acting corporate services manager Marc Ferguson said the auditors planned to exit the council by the end of this week, and the council should have "a snapshot" of their draft findings.

"The plan would be to have the annual report tabled by December 13. We will probably need some time before that with the Risk and Assurance Committee to go through some issues," he said.

Cr Dooley: "To me, that's not acceptable. There is no way we should have our annual report tabled and have it accepted on December 13."

The committee needed to be able to scrutinise it, Cr Dooley said.

Audit and risk chairman Frank Dooley

Audit and risk chairman Frank Dooley Photo: Supplied

Cr Dooley said he wanted the draft audit in front of the committee for review by December 7.

That meeting should not be time restricted, in order to comprehensively examine the draft.

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"It should be gone through line by line," he said.

Cr Peter Ewen noted previous council meetings with little notice or enough report reading time.

In response, Cr Dooley said the council should not be gathering on December 13 to be adopting "under duress".

"I expect to receive from the auditor the interim report in a draft format prior to the seventh."

Earlier in the meeting, Ferguson noted the delayed 2021 audit from Audit NZ had impacted on the handover to new auditors Ernst and Young, "plus staff attrition".

Late finalisation of the 2021 audit resulted in a delayed start by the new auditors, therefore the results for the first quarter of the 2023 financial year were provisional subject to closure, and any final adjustments in the 2022 year.

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