I love the beginning of the year when everything seems possible. It feels like a clean slate to do things so much better than during that messy, overly busy year that's just finished!
Back in 2014, councils had to scramble to get their first ever 30 year infrastructure strategies together. There was very little time between the Government adopting the legislative requirement in August 2014 and the main points having to be ready for inclusion in the 2015 LTP consultation documents.
Councils were perfectly justified in deciding to take a ‘compliance only’ approach, given the tight time frames. In many cases the focus needed to be on getting the strategies over the line by ticking all the boxes of section 101B of the Local Government Act 2002, with a plan to do a much better job by 2018.
This was especially the case for the long-term strategic issues and assumptions included in the strategies. So, now it's time to pick up those 2015 documents and decide how to go about updating and rewriting these strategies, to meet that commitment.
Feedback from the Office of the Auditor-General
Sarah Lineman (Acting Assistant Auditor-General, Local Government) made the following comments in the January 2017 Perspectives magazine (page 14):
“Expect to see our auditors focusing slightly differently than they did in 2015, with an increased emphasis on the quality of, and explanation for, the assumptions used to build your strategies and forecasts. We will expect that highly uncertain assumptions — and their implications — will be clearly explained to your communities.
“We encourage councils to also think carefully this year about what you’ve learnt from previous LTP cycles and bring all these learnings to the 2018 round. We hope to see a real consolidation and improvement in key areas, such as financial and infrastructure strategies, and the presentation of consultation documents.”
Here are some suggestions for your review process.