QUESTIONS RAISED: Former Devonport City Council employee Tricia Alford, who has highlighted several errors in the council’s annual report. Picture: Katie McDougall.THE Devonport City Council’s annual report has been delayed until a number of errors are addressed. An ex-employee highlighted several mistakes in the report as it was being tabled for approval at the council’s annual meeting last week. In response to questions raised by the council’s former organisational development officer, Tricia Alford, the council deferred adopting the report, removed it from its website and has sought an explanation from general manager Ian McCallum. Mr McCallum said a further report would be compiled and taken to a December meeting for approval. Mr McCallum said he would be happy to sit down after the council adopted the amended report to answer any questions but could not comment beforehand. “Council at the annual general meeting on Monday, November 22, 2010 resolved to defer adoption of the annual report for 2009-10. The annual report has now been withdrawn in light of this and the fact that Mrs Alford has raised some obvious errors in the report that need addressing,” Mr McCallum said in an email response to The Advocate. “I am not at liberty to discuss the annual report or Mrs Alford’s questions until I have worked through them with aldermen (at their request) and they have been reported back to council at a council meeting.” Mrs Alford, who is one of several council staff to be made redundant earlier this year as a cost-cutting measure to cover a shock $2.3 million budget blowout, described herself as a concerned resident seeking answers on who is accountable for a report that included typing mistakes and appeared to have reprinted a page from last year’s report that incorrectly referred to the Devonport Homemaker Centre as an unapproved development. Mrs Alford successfully called on the aldermen to put off adopting the annual report until it was proof read and any errors corrected. “Is the general manager responsible, as the head of the organisation, to ensure the accuracy of the annual report? I have not read the entire report, word for word, as I’m not paid the $225,000-$245,000 that the GM is paid to ensure the accuracy of this document – but I have noted, as I am sure other members of the community have, a number of typos throughout the pages I read,” Mrs Alford said in a typed document to the council. Mrs Alford asked the council why the budgeted deficit of $353,000 had been doubled by resolution on February 15 to a deficit of $760,000 and after a further six months of operation it doubled again with the deficit now reported to be $1,630,000. Mrs Alford said an explanation was offered of $1.4 million of internal overhead expenses written back because of incomplete capital works but on page 85 of the report she said an amount of $650,000 was noted as an overestimation of capitalisation of employee costs. Mrs Alford asked the council to explain why the discrepancy of $750,000 and she asked where did the $1.4 million come from. Mrs Alford said the community should be presented with information in the annual report that allowed it to understand the financials of the council and compare them to previous years, but as a result of restructures and organisational changes that was not the case for the last four years. “Admittedly, the council’s financials are complex but they should not be presented to be so complicated that the community cannot clearly see if the council is on track in the provision of services according to a budget and allow the aldermen to make informed decisions,” Mrs Alford said in written questions she has put to the council.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.