Auditor-General's overview

Local government: Results of the 2010/11 audits

I am publishing this report in a context of potential change in the local government sector. The nature and amount of change has yet to be decided. Against this backdrop, local authorities – councillors and managers alike – must deal with two critical matters:

  • preparing, consulting, and adopting the 2012-22 long-term plans (LTPs); and
  • delivering levels of service that are not compromised by concerns about rate increases and debt.

This report shows that of the 78 local authorities, eight were unable to complete their 2010/11 annual reporting responsibilities by the statutory deadline of 31 October 2011. Of those eight, two had still not completed their obligations by 31 January 2012 seven months after the balance date.

This report also shows that, as they strive to meet communities' expectations, local authorities face challenges balancing rates, other revenue, and debt with levels of service.

My Office has seen early drafts of LTPs that show that councils are working hard to maintain levels of service that their communities can afford.

Later this year, I will report fully on the outcomes of LTPs. Meanwhile, this report on the 2010/11 financial year and other matters that my Office has dealt with to 31 December 2011 points to some of the important matters that challenge local authorities as they prepare their LTPs for 2012-22.

I cannot report on local government in 2010/11 without noting the difficulties caused by the earthquakes that devastated Canterbury. Many of those communities have faced and continue to face substantial barriers to daily life. That they continue to strive to overcome these barriers is to their credit.

Local government staff in Canterbury have worked tirelessly to replace or return vital services. Our reliance on local government services and assets has never been more apparent.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

2 April 2012

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