Timaru District Council

Auditing the Future: 2009

Timaru District Council (TDC) is a mid to large-sized district council. Most of its population of about 43,000 people live in or around the four main towns. Two-thirds of the population live in the main centre of Timaru. The district’s population is expected to be fairly static during the period of the LTCCP. Agriculture plays a significant part in the local economy, but a number of significant manufacturing operations are also in the district.

TDC’s LTCCP includes a good section that explains capital expenditure and operating expenditure included in the LTCCP. It explains the difference between each type of expenditure, and is supported by the use of some good graphs.

It also includes a short but clear explanation of the use of debt, which covers the concept of intergenerational equity at a basic level. The LTCCP includes a section on rates that sets out the average rates in each location for years one to three of the LTCCP. A graph shows how the average weekly cost is spent by the various activities of the TDC. The value proposition is also supported by a table that compares average weekly rate costs to other common household costs. This is not an indepth analysis but it is clear and straightforward. The strength of TDC's LTCCP is in the performance framework area. The LTCCP presents an overall framework that begins with describing the activity and continues with the levels of service depictions and performance measures. The links between these elements and how they fit together are clear. In addition, the LTCCP is well set out and includes several features to enhance the reader's understanding of the document. These include:

  • A good illustrative description of the format used in the LTCCP for each group of activities section is provided at the beginning of that section of the LTCCP. This shows a "mock" activity section and explains the purpose of each of the components that are presented in each section of the LTCCP.
  • Each group of activities statement includes a pie chart divided into segments representing each community outcome. The chart highlights the outcomes to which the activity makes a primary and a secondary contribution. The pie chart is supported by a table that provides further details of the activity's specific contribution to each outcome. This presentation assists the reader's understanding of the link between outcomes and council activities.
  • The TDC has established an effective format to convey levels of service and the related performance targets, particularly for detailed targets for years one to three of the LTCCP. We emphasise that, while the format is effective, changes in targets during the period can still be reflected more accurately.
It is important to note that our overall audit opinion on the Timaru District Council's LTCCP SOP was qualified because the prospective financial information did not include the effect of price changes during the 10 years of the LTCCP. While, in our view, this was significant enough to qualify the audit opinion on the final adopted LTCCP, we recognise that the non-financial dimension of the performance framework was useful.
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