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Experience counts

Friday, 25th January, 2013

By Erica Visser

City Council will pay $78,000 more for audit services during the next six years but Acting General Manager, Kate O'Neill, insists it's value for money.

Council appointed a new, more expensive auditor at its meeting on Wednesday night after the six-year contract with its last external auditor, Dean Newbery and Partners, expired.

The move comes after Council cut back several projects in a bid to save money.

Dean Newbery and Partners had been Council's auditor for the past 12 years and charged $27,000, before GST.

The South Australian company has now been replaced by UHY Haines Norton, which charges $40,000 per audit, before tax.

UHY Haines Norton was the second most expensive tender of the five received by Council.

The auditor was recommended as the top choice by Ms O'Neill and Council's Chief Financial Officer, Tim Drew.

However, a Council report stated that all of the five tenders were "of appropriate standard with similar approaches to the audit process."

Ms O'Neill said that the cost of the auditor was accounted for within Council's budget, so it was acceptable to hire a more expensive one.

She said that while it cost more, they would spend more hours on the job. "This was explained at the Council meeting. It relates to not only the lump sum but the number of hours to be dedicated to the audit for that lump sum," Ms O'Neill told the BDT.

"They have strong experience in NSW Local Government. This provides them with sound knowledge of the NSW legislation and related requirements and strong relationships and networks within the State.

"They are also in a position to provide feedback or recommendations on what they have experienced at other councils working within the same framework as us.

"The report submitted to Council in regards to the external audit tender will be made available on Council's website for public view."

Mayor Wincen Cuy told the BDT that it was especially important that quality was taken into account when hiring the auditor, given Council's potential $7m debt to mining company Perilya.

"Isn't it especially important to have a good auditor given the situation Council is in?" he said.

The company will conduct audits for Council from the end of this financial year until 2018.

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