Deadline for report missed

For the first time in its 22 years, the Waitaki District Council has missed the legal deadline for approving its annual report.

Under the Local Government Act, the council should have received and approved its 2010-11 annual report by October 31, but now says this will be done next month.

The lateness will result in the annual report being "tagged" and reported to Parliament by the Auditor-general, but the council is unlikely to face any further action.

The Minister of Local Government has powers to act, including sacking councillors, but that is only taken in extreme cases or if there are persistent breaches of the Act.

The reasons given by the council's corporate services manager, Carolyn Carter, for missing this year's deadline were pressure on financial staff and the introduction and "bedding down" of a new computer system over the past eight to 10 months.

The new computer system had significantly increased the workloads of financial staff, she said.

In addition, staff were preparing and implementing the 2011-12 annual plan and preparing for the 2012-22 long-term plan which had to be ready early next year.

Mrs Carter said the council, "as a responsible employer", decided to pull back from overcommitting staff, who had already faced many months of long hours and additional work.

"To push the annual report completion deadline too hard was simply unsustainable," she said.

Extra staff were brought in for the short term, but could not be delegated some work, including the annual report and computer implementation problems, she said.




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