Tag Archives: Q&A

DCC: What happened to $20 million cash on hand? #LGOIMA

1. Council had $22 million cash on hand.
2. Council spent $20 million (cash) on “capital projects”.
3. Council won’t account for the $20 million.
4. Council seeks open cheque to make discovery.

Report – FIN – 08/09/2014 (PDF, 2.3 MB)
Interim Financial Result – 12 Months to 30 June 2014

On 8 September 2014, the Council’s interim financial result for 12 months to 30 June 2014 was tabled at a meeting of the Finance Committee. A week later, ODT (15.9.14) reported Mayor Cull as saying there was a “significant improvement” to the Council’s core debt position.

In the same item, “Council group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie said the turnaround was partly due to a significant change in the amount of cash held by the council. The forecast had included about $22 million in “cash on hand”, but, since Mr McKenzie’s arrival, the decision had been made to slash the amount to about $2 million, he said. The cash was instead used to pay for capital projects, avoiding the expected need to borrow for the work, which reduced the council’s need to borrow by $20 million, he said.” ODT Link

What if? flagged the ‘cash-no-longer-on-hand’ illumination with a post:
● 15.9.14 Cull’s council spent the cash

Capital projects?
How was the money spent, and who by?
Then, we completely lost sight of it.
As the following correspondence shows, Council spent $20 million of ratepayer funds but refuses to declare where the cash went. Mr McKenzie plays the convenient game of obfuscation —like so many before him, and alongside him now at DCC.

█ Apparently, I’m to be personally charged for demanding relevant paperwork to track down the Public Money.

Accountability? Transparency? What the HELL is that?
NOT something DCC values, that’s a dead cert.

[begins]

From: Elizabeth Kerr
Sent: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 11:13 p.m.
To: Sandy Graham [DCC Group Manager Corporate Services]
Subject: LGOIMA request

Dear Sandy

Re: Cull warns debt still hurdle for council (ODT 15.9.14)http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/315949/cull-warns-debt-still-hurdle-council

Within the news item it says:

“The forecast had included about $22 million in “cash on hand”, but, since Mr McKenzie’s arrival, the decision had been made to slash the amount to about $2 million, he said.

“The cash was instead used to pay for capital projects, avoiding the expected need to borrow for the work, which reduced the council’s need to borrow by $20 million, he said.”

I would like the DCC to precisely itemise the way(s) in which the city council has spent this $20 million of “cash on hand”, to include the capital projects by name or other reference; the name(s) of the relevant council department(s) and or committee(s) that incurred this expenditure; the dates of expenditure; the spending delegations attributable to which, by name, formal signatories on account; and any other information in legible form that would assist the city council to meet my request in a forthright, full and transparent manner.

I look forward to reply.

Thanks, kind regards

Elizabeth Kerr

__________________________

From: Sandy Graham [DCC]
Sent: ‎Wednesday‎, ‎24‎ ‎September‎ ‎2014 ‎9‎:‎01‎ ‎a.m.
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Cc: Grace Ockwell [DCC]

Thanks Elizabeth

I have forwarded to staff to consider and a response will be provided as soon as possible but in any event within twenty working days. It may be that I need to come back to you with questions of clarification or refinement depending on how this information is stored/held but I will be in touch as required.

Warm regards
Sandy

__________________________

From: Elizabeth Kerr
Sent: Friday, 31 October 2014 1:42 p.m.
To: Sandy Graham [DCC]
Cc: Grace Ockwell [DCC]
Subject: Re: LGOIMA request [DCC expenditure of $20M cash on hand]

Dear Sandy

The official information request I made on 23 September 2014 (see emails [above]) is yet to have a response, we are now well outside the twenty working day limit.

Please provide update on how soon the information will be released.

Many thanks, and kind regards

Elizabeth

__________________________

From: Sandy Graham [DCC]
Sent: ‎Friday‎, ‎31‎ ‎October‎ ‎2014 ‎2‎:‎03‎ ‎p.m.
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Cc: Grace Ockwell [DCC]

Sorry Elizabeth.

My fault. I had been supplied with a response and had not forwarded it.

The Group Chief Financial Officer advises:

“This request cannot be completed for what they are requesting as I do not know what capital and operating activity we would assign to the $20 million. In addition the work involved in getting the invoices etc would be significant. What has happened is that we have used our cash on hand to fund council activity (operating and capital) instead of borrowing to do this.”

If you would like me to pursue the possibility of tracking down invoices, I would need to consider charging for this work because there would be significant collation and research required, and even then, we may not be able to fully answer your question. Let me know if you would like me to investigate this further.

The GCFO has indicated he is happy to meet and talk through the issues but is unable to provide any further information at this stage.

Again, apologies for my tardiness.

Sandy

__________________________

From: Elizabeth Kerr [mailto:ejkerr@ihug.co.nz]
Sent: Friday, 31 October 2014 2:05 p.m.
To: Sandy Graham [DCC]
Cc: Grace Ockwell [DCC]; Grant McKenzie [DCC GCFO]
Subject: Re: LGOIMA request [DCC expenditure of $20M cash on hand]

Dear Sandy

Thanks for getting back to me promptly today. I acknowledge receipt.

I’m considering your response fully and as a consequence looking into all my options.

Kind regards, Elizabeth

[ends]

Serendipitously, the same day (31.10.14), I heard from Cr Lee Vandervis —unbeknownst to me, a couple of days earlier he had voiced a similar query about the [MISSING PRESUMED DROWNED] $20 million “cash on hand”, and more, following his study of the Council’s Annual Report 2013-14.

Report – Council – 30/10/14 (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Approval and Adoption of Annual Report

[begins]

—— Forwarded Message
From: Lee Vandervis
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2014 22:38:15 +1300
To: Sue Bidrose [DCC], Sandy Graham [DCC]
Conversation: Annual Report
Subject: Annual Report

Hi Sue,

The beginning of the Annual Report seems very reassuring with your highlighting our billion dollars worth of saleable assets, and our debt levels in pretty good shape and improving.

Looking further into the body of the report there is a lot of tabulation of various kinds of assets, but I seem not to be able to find the same depth of discussion on debt or the historical debt graph that I fought for years to finally get included. [A Consolidated term liabilities figure of $622,843,000 does appear on p199. I had been led to expect a historical graph of DCC debt and of total consolidated debt]
Is it possible to also have a graph of all inclusive historical staff costs included? There was one a while ago but it seems to have been dropped again.

At the end of the document I find a number of graphs that feature a fetching orange colour bar that seems to indicate that our “thriving and diverse economy” under Affordability has exceeded our LTP quantified limit on rates income in 2013 and 2014, exceeded the quantified limit on rates increase this year, slipped below the balanced budget benchmark, and also slipped below the essential services benchmark for this year.
It is no surprise to me that Citipark has not achieved targets, but I am surprised that your opening comments are so upbeat when the closing benchmarks are not met and the quantified limits seem to be exceeded.
These benchmark and limit graphs may have been misinterpreted by me because despite reading them several times I remain unsure of their real import.
Is it possible for someone to explain to me how the ‘pretty good shape and improving’ overview is supported, especially in light of the $20 million cut [from $22 million] in cash on hand and various sales that we have apparently recently instituted, combined with further expected constraints on DCHL subvention payments?

Looking forward,
Lee
__________________________

—— Forwarded Message
From: Lee Vandervis
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:34:29 +1300
To: Debbie Porteous [ODT], Nicholas GS Smith [ODT]
Conversation: Annual Report
Subject: FW: Annual Report

Hi Debbie,
The Tuesday 28th email [above], which still remains unanswered, may help explain some of what deeply concerns me regarding yet another DCC Annual Report presented as up-beat.

Kind regards,
Cr. Vandervis
—— End of Forwarded Message
—— End of Forwarded Message

[ends]

If there was a plot to hide the way $20 million slid from sight, it thickens.
Not done yet, because I’m not a turkey dinner.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Cull’s council spent the cash

The cash was instead used to pay for capital projects, avoiding the expected need to borrow for the work, which reduced the council’s need to borrow by $20 million. –Grant McKenzie

The council had also agreed to another $20 million in carry-forwards for debt-funded project budgets, which shifted allocated funding for delayed projects from one year’s budget to the next. –Grant McKenzie

### ODT Online Mon, 15 Sep 2014
Cull warns debt still hurdle for council
By Chris Morris
The Dunedin City Council cannot afford to get “complacent” despite a significant improvement to its core debt position, Mayor Dave Cull says. Council figures released last week showed its core debt – excluding companies – had dropped by nearly $5.5 million, from $227 million to $221.5 million, in the last financial year. […] the drop was the first time the council’s core debt had decreased since 2002-03, except for when stadium-related debt was transferred from the council to Dunedin Venues Ltd in 2010-11.
Read more

DCC Sep 14, 2014

Dunedin City Council – Finance Committee – September 8 2014
Coverage of the Dunedin City Council Finance Committee held on Monday, 8 September 2014. Minutes, agendas and reports related to this meeting can be found at http://goo.gl/UumsOI

Report – FIN – 08/09/2014 (PDF, 2.3 MB)
Interim Financial Result – 12 Months to 30 June 2014

Report – FIN – 08/09/2014 (PDF, 668.6 KB)
Financial Result – 1 Month to 31 July 2014

Report – FIN – 08/09/2014 (PDF, 391.2 KB)
Waipori Fund Quarterly Report to June 2014

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1.9.14 DCC Fraud: Further official information in reply to Cr Vandervis
30.8.14 DCC Fraud: Cr Vandervis states urgent need for facts and the record…
26.8.14 DCC: Forensics for kids
23.8.14 DCC public finance forum 12.8.14 (ten slides)
28.4.14 DCC loses City Property manager in restructuring
30.1.14 DCC broke → More PPPs to line private pockets and stuff ratepayers
● 29.1.14 Mangawhai, Kaipara —we hear ya! [relevance]
17.12.13 DCC, Dunedin City Treasury and 3 big banks [Interest Rate Swaps]
10.12.13 DCC putting up cover, walls paper thin [risk exposure VERY HIGH]
14.10.13 DCC: New chief financial officer
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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DCC: Public finance forum | Tuesday August 12, 2014

ALL WELCOME
Cr Richard Thomson provides venue details for the Public Finance Forum.

Event: DCC Public Finance Forum
Date: Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Venue: Dunningham Room, 4th Floor, City Library, 230 Moray Place

Notes: Questions in advance to Cr Richard Thomson, Chair of Finance Committee (contact details below).

—– Original Message —–
From: Richard Thomson
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Sent: Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 at 11.04 AM
Subject: Public Finance Forum

Dear Elizabeth

when we did the last finance forum there seemed general agreement that it was a worthwhile exercise and I suggested that we schedule another for after that adoption of the annual plan. That has now ocurred and we have set a date of 12th August for this. I would be grateful if you could advise your network on What if of this. As last time it would be really helpful if people could advise questions in advance. Often they require specific information and if we have them in advance we can provide that on the night which is good for others there as well. I am happy for these to be forwarded directly to me. The meeting will be held from 5.30 to 7.30 on the 12th August. Venue to be confirmed but I imagine it will be the same room in the Council chambers as we used last time.

Regards
Richard [Cr Richard Thomson]

Mobile Contact: 027 2245739
Office Contact: 03 4770623 ext 12
Fax: 03 4774028

[richard.thomson @ xtra.co.nz]

Related Posts and Comments:
13.7.14 DCC: Public finance forum [invitation]
17.12.13 DCC, Dunedin City Treasury and 3 big banks [Interest Rate Swaps]
23.11.13 DCC: Finance Committee [public forum] 27 November
17.11.13 DCC Finance Committee: Public meeting 27 November

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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DCC: Public finance forum [invitation]

Event: DCC Public Finance Forum
Date: Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Venue: To be confirmed
ALL WELCOME
Notes: Questions in advance to Cr Richard Thomson, Chair of Finance Committee.

Email received.

—– Original Message —–
From: Richard Thomson
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Sent: Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 at 11.04 AM
Subject: Public Finance Forum

Dear Elizabeth

when we did the last finance forum there seemed general agreement that it was a worthwhile exercise and I suggested that we schedule another for after that adoption of the annual plan. That has now ocurred and we have set a date of 12th August for this. I would be grateful if you could advise your network on What if of this. As last time it would be really helpful if people could advise questions in advance. Often they require specific information and if we have them in advance we can provide that on the night which is good for others there as well. I am happy for these to be forwarded directly to me. The meeting will be held from 5.30 to 7.30 on the 12th August. Venue to be confirmed but I imagine it will be the same room in the Council chambers as we used last time.

Regards
Richard [Cr Richard Thomson]

Mobile Contact: 027 2245739
Office Contact: 03 4770623 ext 12
Fax: 03 4774028

[richard.thomson @ xtra.co.nz]

Related Posts and Comments:
17.12.13 DCC, Dunedin City Treasury and 3 big banks [Interest Rate Swaps]
23.11.13 DCC: Finance Committee [public forum] 27 November
17.11.13 DCC Finance Committee: Public meeting 27 November

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

3 Comments

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DCC: Finance Committee [public forum] 27 November

Updated post 26.11.13
DCC Annual Report 2012/2013

Join Finance Committee Chair Cr Richard Thomson, Deputy Chair Cr Hilary Calvert and senior Finance staff at the open meeting on Wednesday, 27 November.

busted-piggy-bank [investingcaffeine.com] 4The meeting is being held to allow members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding DCC finances to seek answers during an open question and answer session.

It is hoped that questions posed on the night can be answered on the night, so it would be helpful if questions that may require research could be provided in advance.

If you have a question, please email dcc @ dcc.govt.nz

When 27 Nov 2013 5:30pm-7:00pm
Where Meeting Room One, Municipal Chambers

Related Post and Comments:
17.11.13 DCC Finance Committee: Public meeting 27 November
[Invitation from Cr Richard Thomson]

DCC Link [no longer active]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: investingcaffeine.com – busted piggy bank, re-imaged by Whatifdunedin

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DCC Finance Committee: Public meeting 27 November

Updated post 26.11.13
DCC Annual Report 2012/2013

Received.

—– Original Message —–
From: Richard Thomson
To: Elizabeth Kerr
Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2013 8:53 PM

Hi Elizabeth,

you may wish to advise the readers of and contributors to your blog site of the following meeting. I have copied the gist of the advertisement regarding it below:

“You are invited to an open meeting with the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Dunedin City Council Finance Committee, and senior finance staff. The intention of the meeting is to allow members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding Council Finances to seek answers to their questions during an open question and answer session. It is hoped that questions posed on the night can be answered on the night so It would be helpful if questions that may require research could be provided in advance. Please come and join Finance Committee Chair Cr Richard Thomson and Deputy Chair Cr Hilary Calvert and Council staff in Meeting Room 1 Dunedin Municipal Chambers at 5.30pm on the 27th of November”

I recognise that numbers are one thing and interpretation is another. Hilary and I are keen to make it as simple as possible for interested members of the public to get access to Council financial information. People may of course look at the same figures and draw different conclusions as to their importance, implications, or whatever. The point of the session is not to agree conclusions (although we can certainly discuss interpretation if people want) but to ensure that people have the information and understand it in order to draw their own conclusions. Whilst we anticipate that many questions will be answerable off the cuff, we will be able to provide better information for people if complex questions are communicated in advance. To that end you are perfectly free to include my email address for anyone who wishes to take advantage of this. Senior finance staff will also be in attendance. Whilst the initial meeting is an experiment by a new Chair and Deputy of the Finance Committee, if there is interest then we would hope to repeat it on a regular basis.

Regards
Richard Thomson

richard.thomson @ xtra.co.nz

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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