News

Audit gives all clear to city

By James Bennett

Greater Shepparton City Council has been cleared of any fraud and corruption in a random audit released yesterday by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office.

The report, handed down by acting Auditor-General Dave Barry, audited four councils including Greater Shepparton City Council, Strathbogie Shire Council and Wellington and Wyndham councils.

The audit focused on the expenditure and procedures of the councillors and staff using data collected between July 2015 and February this year.

A summary of the report stated it didn’t find any cases of corruption or fraud in all four councils but ‘‘found examples of controls failings’’.

It handed down 10 general recommendations, one specific recommendation to Shepparton, Wellington and Wyndham and another specific recommendation to Strathbogie.

The summary stated the recommendations include ‘‘strengthening controls for approving transactions such as requiring adequate supporting documentation, appropriate segregation of duties, and monitoring controls to identify potential fraud and corruption’’.

Greater Shepparton City Council chief executive Peter Harriott said many of the issues were minor technicalities and he added he was happy with the office’s findings.

‘‘Council received the report before it was made public and have already started to implement the recommendations.

‘‘There are improvements we need to make and where appropriate we’ve made those changes.

‘‘One example was with staff using one fuel card for diesel and petrol, which found cost discrepancies. The suggestion was we just use one card for each instead of jointly used.

‘‘We’re always dealing with audits — both external and internal — and council welcomes those audits.

‘‘We were happy to participate because often they can provide further guidance.

‘‘Council was comfortable with the audit and didn’t expect to be identified of any corruption or fraud.’’

Mr Harriott said the council was praised in the report for its handling of some policies.

‘‘One policy is about vehicles sold or traded-in on the open market and other councils were found not be complying, however the report said we had a good process.’’

The council has agreed to ‘‘publish councillor expenses for 2017-2018 on websites and comply in future’’ as recommended in the report.

‘‘It said council didn’t publish the expenses on our website in a certain way, but we’ve ensure and already complied with that recommendation,’’ Mr Harriott said.

Strathbogie Shire Council was recommended by the office to ‘‘stop selling and providing cars to staff.’’

To view the full audit report, visit the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office website www.audit.vic.gov.au.