ORC annual report delayed by auditor

A "last-minute curve ball" from the Office of the Auditor-general meant the Otago Regional Council's annual report for 2009-10 could not be completed in time for yesterday's council meeting.

The council was randomly selected by the office for a review of its annual plan audit process, council corporate services director Wayne Scott said.

As a result, it had sought further information on a couple of matters, including why bus patronage was down.

Chairman Stephen Cairns told councillors a "last-minute curve ball" had occurred with the report.

Auditor Pat Heslin said due to the tight timeframe around preparing the report, the issues raised by the office were not able to be worked through in time for the meeting.

However, he expected to issue an unqualified audit opinion, he said, and did not expect further changes.

Cr Bryan Scott said the report included five targets for public transport, four of which the council had met.

The community had asked the council to invest in its bus system, but "the community has not matched it with bums on seat", he said.

Cr Duncan Butcher said overall the report was "extremely good".

A lot of targets had been met.

Those that had not were often for reasons "outside the hands" of the regional council.

"You can't force people on to [bus] seats."

The council approved the adoption of the annual report subject to final wording from the auditors.

It included a report of staffing levels - 127 at June 2010, compared with 132 at June 2009, and of those, seven were paid between $100,000 and $109,000, four between $120,000 and $149,000 and two more than $150,000.

Council chief executive Graeme Martin's salary was the same as the previous two years at $222,000, although the total annual cost of his package to the council was $295,070, up from $284,250 in 2009.

Chairman Stephen Cairns received $119,248, up from $115,697 in 2009, and deputy chairman Stephen Woodhead $56,441 up from $55,889.

The remaining nine councillors received between $38,470 and $45,410.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz


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