Auditor’s effect on rate increase queried

Concerns an auditor is having too much influence on Gore’s proposed rate increases were raised yesterday.

The matter arose at an extraordinary meeting of the Gore District Council to approve the long-term plan consultation document.

In the document chief financial officer Lornae Straith noted Deloitte, the appointed auditor, had instructed the council to include inflation on a number of items previously approved by council resolutions.

It also instructed the council to include inflation on the first year of the 10-year plan, even though it is less than three months away.

‘‘This has taken a forecasted rates increase in year one from 7.27% to 8.22%,’’ the report said.

Cr Bret Highstead asked why the auditor’s instructions could lead to a rate rise.

It was ridiculous staff had made an effort to keep the increase down, only to have the auditors overrule and ‘‘impose’’ a 1% increase in rates, he said.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks

believed the council should inform the Auditor-general and Minister of Local Government about its concerns.

Chief executive Steve Parry said the audit had been the most difficult he had been involved in.

‘‘You do wonder about the influence of non-elected, non-resident people on your plan,’’ he said.

Councillors moved the document be adopted and made available for public consultation.

- By Sandy Eggleston

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