Framework for Long Term Financial and Asset Management Planning for all Tasmanian Councils

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1 TASMANIAN STATE GOVERNMENT and LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION OF TASMANIA Framework for Long Term Financial and Asset Management Planning for all Tasmanian Councils FINAL REPORT September 2009

2 Document Control Document ID: LGAT Common Framework Final Report V3 Rev No Date Revision Details Typist Author Verifier Approver 2 27/07/09 First Draft JH JH JR, CC JH 3 20/8/09 Additions re frameworks edits JH JH JR, CC JH 4 11/9/09 Inclusion of comments on implementation plan JH JH JR JH 5 28/9/09 Recommendations reordered to align with Implementation Plan Report tasks JH JH JR JH Project Director Chris Champion, CEO IPWEA, Authors Jeff Roorda, John Howard, Jeff Roorda & Associates Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia Level 12, 447 Kent St. Sydney NSW

3 i Contents Executive Summary... iii Recommendations... vi 1. Introduction Project Scope Deliverables The common Framework for Tasmanian Councils The National Frameworks Australian Council of Local Governments Local Government and Planning Minister s Council Enhanced National Frameworks Framework 1 Assessing Local Government Financial Sustainability Use of indicators Indicators for a National Framework Framework 2 Asset Planning and Management Development of an Asset Management Policy Strategy and Planning Governance and Management Arrangements Defining Levels of Service Data and Systems Skills and Processes Evaluation Framework 3 Financial Planning and Reporting Strategic Longer Term Plan Budget Annual Report Applying the National Framework to Tasmania Financial Planning and Reporting Asset Management Regional Consultation Forums IPWEA NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model Prioritising the Asset Management Improvement Plan Benefits of implementing the common Framework for Tasmania Barriers to Implementing the common Framework for Tasmania Pilot Testing Asset Register Integrity Long Term Financial Plan Template NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model Measuring asset management improvement Evaluation of common Framework for Tasmanian Councils Financial Planning and Reporting Asset Planning and Management South Australian Long Term Financial Plan Template IIMM Asset Management Plan structure Summary of Evaluation of the common Framework Implementation of the Common Framework Tasmanian State Government... 34

4 ii Financial Sustainability Indicators State Guidelines Encouragement and Support for Councils Reporting on Progress State Government and LGAT Encouragement and Support for Councils Overcoming implementation Barriers Local Government Association of Tasmania Individual Councils Professional Bodies References Appendix A Councils attending Regional Consultation Forums Appendix B Pilot Testing Councils Appendix C IPWEA NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model Elements and Characteristics Appendix D Australian Infrastructure Financial Management Guidelines Financial Sustainability Indicators Tables Table 1: Financial Sustainability Indicators for a National Framework... 5 Table 2: NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model Practice Areas Table 3: Characteristics associated with NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model Practice Areas Table 4: Benefits of implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian councils Table 5: Barriers to implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian councils Table 6: NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model Key Performance Indicators Table 7: Pilot Councils evaluation of common Framework for Tasmanian councils Table 8: AIFMG Financial Sustainability Indicators Figures Figure 1: Average Maturity for 22 Responding Councils in Tasmania Figure 2: Example of Corporate Risk Scores for Asset Management Practice Areas... 19

5 iii Executive Summary The Tasmania State Government and Local Government Association of Tasmania have been working together to improve the financial sustainability of Tasmanian councils. The Premier s Local Government Council adopted four key areas for co operation between the State Government and Local Government in its program for The program will provide the opportunity to implement some of the recommendations proposed in the financial sustainability report commissioned by LGAT as well as the enhanced national frameworks for financial sustainability (criteria for assessing financial sustainability, asset management and planning, and financial management and reporting). This project forms one component of the broader Stronger Councils, Better Services program. This project is to evaluate the benefits and barriers to implementing a common Framework for longterm financial and asset management planning for all Tasmanian councils. The project scope has four parts. 1) Through consultation with all Tasmanian councils, determine the benefits and barriers to implementing a common specified framework for long term financial planning and strategic asset management planning in all councils in Tasmania. a. Specifically these are: The Enhanced National Frameworks on Financial Planning and Reporting and Asset Planning and Management, The South Australian Long Term Financial Plan Template, The IIMM Asset Management Plan Structure outlined in the International Infrastructure Management Manual. 2) To pilot full implementation of the frameworks in a number (no less than 4) of diverse councils and evaluate those frameworks in terms of ease of use, ability to deliver useful information and effectiveness in supporting quality governance with a view to enhanced financial sustainability. 3) To deliver a written report to LGAT articulating the outcomes of consultation and pilots and making recommendations in relation to ongoing use of the frameworks and related templates, including ongoing or initial training and development requirements. 4) The preferred provider will work with LGAT and the State Government through the Sustainable Business Working Group as well as other staff as required, to ensure the scope is achieved to the required standard. Regional consultation forums were held in three regional locations. 22 councils were represented at the forums. The forums identified benefits of and barriers to implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian councils.

6 iv Benefits of implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian Councils identified were: providing a mechanism for achieving the target set by the Local Government and Planning Ministers Council to implement the enhanced national frameworks for asset planning and management and financial planning and reporting by 31 December 2010, providing the opportunity to demonstrate that Tasmanian councils can achieve core competency in asset management and financial planning and deliver value for money services to their communities, provide an opportunity for councils to adopt a whole of council perspective to enable continuous improvement of their asset management and financial management practices and set targets for future improvement, provide a mechanism for Tasmanian councils to move from annual budgeting to long term financial planning based on consultation with the community on asset service levels and financial sustainability, provide the opportunity for councils to set and report on targets for demonstrating value for money service delivery to meet the agreed objectives for their community and State and Commonwealth Governments. Barriers to implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian Councils identified were: lack of awareness of importance of common framework to achieve financial sustainability for Tasmanian councils by elected members, council management and staff and the community, inability or unwillingness to allocate required resources to implement the common framework, lack of financial planning and asset management planning skills in councils, lack of leadership in good governance and long term asset management and financial planning. Pilot testing was carried out with six councils in four locations covering: assessment of asset register integrity, assessment of long term financial plan template, review of NAMS.PLUS maturity model used to assess council maturity as a continuous improvement methodology, evaluation of common Framework for Tasmanian councils in terms of: o ease of use o ability to deliver useful information, o supporting quality governance, and o enhancing financial sustainability. The pilot councils were generally supportive of the need to implement the common Framework for Tasmanian councils. The indicated a need for resources (people and guidelines) to assist in implementation and completing asset management and long term financial plans.

7 v Recommendations for each of the four stakeholders were developed to assist each stakeholder in successful implementation of the common Framework. Under the framework, the Tasmanian State Government is required to: provide State Guidelines and policy statements to support councils, and report on progress in implementation of the common Framework for Tasmanian councils to the Local Government and Planning Ministers Council. The State Government and Local Government Association can assist councils by addressing the four major barriers to implementation of the common Frameworks for Tasmanian Councils: lack of awareness of importance of common framework to achieve financial sustainability for Tasmanian councils by elected members, council management and staff and the community, inability or unwillingness to allocate required resources to implement the common framework, lack of financial planning and asset management planning skills in councils, lack of leadership in good governance and long term asset management and financial planning Councils have the major responsibility to allocate the necessary resources to do the work involved in implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian councils and develop asset management plans and long term financial plans by 31 December This is one of the best opportunities Councils will ever have to demonstrate that they are capable managers of infrastructure and can deliver value for money services to their communities. The professional bodies have skills and resources that can be made available to the Local Government Association and councils to assist in implementation of the common Framework for Tasmanian councils.

8 vi Recommendations RECOMMENDATION 1 The State Government review reporting structures in other States including the eight financial sustainability indicators recommended in the Australian Infrastructure Financial Management Guidelines and consider mechanisms for councils to report evidence of progress towards financial sustainability in council s Annual Reports. RECOMMENDATION 2 The State Government investigate the suitability of existing resources for an asset management policy statement, guidelines for asset management strategy and plans and defining levels of service in partnership with the LGAT with a view to adoption of existing available resources with a Tasmanian addendum if required. RECOMMENDATION 3 The State Government encourage and support councils to implement the common Framework for Tasmanian councils through: 1. publishing the use of guidelines and resources to assist councils implement the common Framework for Tasmanian councils, 2. recognising achievements made by councils in implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian councils. RECOMMENDATION 4 The State Government advocate for the development of nationally consistent common reporting indicators for status and improvement reporting to the Local Government and Planning Ministers Council on the State s commitment to implement the enhanced National Frameworks to cover: 1. actions taken by the Tasmanian State Government, 2. actions taken by the Local Government Association of Tasmania, 3. progress reports by councils including, o progress on completion of asset management plans, o progress on completion of sustainable (fully funded) long term financial plans, o progress of councils towards financial sustainability, o progress by councils on achieving core asset management maturity, o progress by councils on eliminating high level asset management risks. RECOMMENDATION 5 The State Government ensure that any data required for a progress reporting mechanism to report to the Local Government and Planning Ministers Council on the State s commitment to implement the enhanced National Frameworks is collected through a single State wide data collection system (such as the existing Tasmania Local Government KPI data collection system).

9 vii RECOMMENDATION 6 The State Government and LGAT increase awareness of the needs for and benefits of action to implement the common Framework for Tasmanian councils by: 1. promotion of the common Framework for Tasmania to councils and the guidelines and resources available to assist councils implement the common Framework, 2. developing a communication strategy to communicate the benefits of implementing the common Framework for Tasmania, 3. communicating the benefits of and progress in implementing the common framework to councils and the community, 4. promoting leaders in implementation of the common framework and providing their experiences and expertise as best practice to all councils. RECOMMENDATION 7 The State Government and LGAT encourage and support councils to implement the common Framework for Tasmania and seek funding to: 1. provide additional resources for councils to achieve a core asset management maturity, 2. develop the NAMS.PLUS maturity model to establish consistent and transparent asset management governance through a council corporate AM governance team reporting either to an internal or regional audit committee that reports audit opinions to each council or to the council, 3. develop the NAMS.PLUS maturity model to provide improvement task resource estimation and maturity improvement reporting capacity for use by councils as a whole of organisation best practice framework to provide councils with a continuous improvement management tool to improve their asset management practices and report on set targets for future improvement. RECOMMENDATION 8 The State Government and LGAT explore opportunities for use of existing skills and resources of professional bodies to assist councils implement the common Framework for Tasmanian councils. RECOMMENDATION 9 The LGAT develop and provide best practice guidance to councils for: 1. enhancing council Strategic Plans to meet the common Framework requirements, 2. enhancing Annual Plans and Budget to meet the common Framework requirements, 3. enhancing Annual Reports to meet the common Framework requirements, 4. improving the effectiveness and efficiency of community consultation processes in the development of Strategic Plans and Annual Plans and Budgets, 5. enhancing the usability and understandability of Annual Plans and Budgets for the community.

10 viii RECOMMENDATION 10 The LGAT further review the suitability of the SA Long Term Financial Plan template for use in Tasmania and as a nationally consistent long term financial planning model, with an expert group of finance professionals to test in greater detail, whether any modifications or detailed guidelines for use of the model is required or if there are any other suitable models that may be used with the aim of providing a suitable long term financial planning model for Tasmania and nationally at reasonable cost. RECOMMENDATION 11 The LGAT provide leadership to councils in implementing the common Framework for Tasmania by adopting a regional support network for councils led by a General Manager in each region and the existing regional professional support networks. RECOMMENDATION 12 The LGAT facilitate skills training for elected members, council management, asset management and financial management staff in conjunction with professional bodies. RECOMMENDATION 13 Councils accept the challenge to improve the asset management and financial planning capacity by agreeing to implement the common Framework for Tasmanian councils and develop asset management plans for major asset classes/categories and long term financial plans to meet the target date set by the Local Government Planning and Ministers Council of 31 December RECOMMENDATION 14 Councils implement a high level cross discipline oversight of the delivery of council s long term financial plan, asset management strategy and plan, achievement of continuous improvement targets and benchmarking with sector and peer councils using a corporate cross discipline asset management governance team and link to reporting requirements under the Local Government Act in council s Annual Report. RECOMMENDATION 15 Councils consider the use of an internal or regional audit committee to provide a high level oversight of council s long term financial plan, asset management strategy and plan, achievement of continuous improvement targets and benchmarking with sector and peer councils using a corporate cross discipline asset management governance team reporting to the internal or a regional audit committee that reports audit opinions to each council. RECOMMENDATION 16 Councils take a regional support approach to implementing the common Framework for Tasmanian councils and provide joint resources for regional project managers working under the General Managers regional network, supported by LGAT to facilitate and support councils implementing the common Framework.

11 [1] 1. Introduction The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) has undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the financial sustainability of Tasmanian councils resulting in a number of areas being identified for improvement or implementation. The Access Economics Report A Review of the Financial Sustainability of Local Government in Tasmania 1 highlighted the need for councils to move from annual to medium to long term service and financial planning periods. The report went further, indicating that quality long term financial plans needed to be supported by sound asset management plans documenting services to be provided and the funds required to provide the services. At its December 2007 meeting, the Premier s Local Government Council (PLGC) approved a new program for The program framework identifies four key areas for cooperation between the State Government and Local Government: Project A: Enhancing Council Financial Sustainability Project B: Innovation in Service Delivery Project C: Good Governance (Governing for the Community) Project D: The Future Role of the Local Government Board. The program will provide the opportunity to implement some of the recommendations proposed in the financial sustainability report commissioned by LGAT as well as the enhanced national frameworks for financial sustainability (criteria for assessing financial sustainability, asset management and planning, and financial management and reporting). This project forms one component of the broader Stronger Councils, Better Services program. 2. Project Scope The project scope comprises four parts. 1) Through guided consultation with all Tasmanian councils determine the benefits and barriers to implementing a common specified framework for long term financial planning and strategic asset management planning in all councils in Tasmania. a. Specifically these are: The Enhanced National Frameworks on Financial Planning and Reporting and Asset Planning and Management, The South Australian Long Term Financial Plan Template, The IIMM Asset Management Plan Structure outlined in the International Infrastructure Management Manual. b. Consultation to be implemented via three regional one day sessions (South, North, North West). 1 Access Economics, 2007.

12 [2] 2) To pilot full implementation of the frameworks in a number (no less than 4) of diverse councils and evaluate those frameworks in terms of ease of use, ability to deliver useful information and effectiveness in supporting quality governance with a view to enhanced financial sustainability. a. Pilot councils to be identified by LGAT and represent at a minimum a city, smaller urban, and rural council. b. Piloting would entail working through the frameworks in a detailed fashion with relevant staff and aiding in developing systems for data identification and transfer. 3) To deliver a written report to LGAT articulating the outcomes of consultation and pilots and making recommendations in relation to ongoing use of the frameworks and related templates, including ongoing or initial training and development requirements. a. Interim report to be provided by 24 July 2009 b. Final report to be provided by 20 August ) The preferred provider will work with LGAT and the State Government through the Sustainable Business Working Group as well as other staff as required, to ensure the scope is achieved to the required standard. 3. Deliverables The deliverables of the project is a written report to LGAT articulating the outcomes of consultation and pilots and making recommendations in relation to ongoing use of the frameworks and related templates, including ongoing or initial training and development requirements. An interim report is to be provided by 24 July 2009 and the final report to be provided by 20 August The common Framework for Tasmanian Councils The common specified framework for long term financial and strategic asset management planning in all councils in Tasmania are: The Enhanced National Frameworks on Financial Planning and Reporting and Asset Planning and Management, The South Australian Long Term Financial Plan template, The International Infrastructure Management Manual Asset Management Plan structure outlined in Appendix A of the Manual.

13 [3] 5. The National Frameworks 5.1 Australian Council of Local Governments Prime Minister Hon. Kevin Rudd, MP outlined three purposes for the inaugural meeting of the Australian Council of Local Government held on 18 November 2008 to: establish a stronger relationship between the federal and local spheres of government, receive input on the government s commitment to constitutional recognition of local government, begin work on a planning reform to improve infrastructure and services delivery across Australia. His address to the meeting included further statements on the government s desired policy outcomes for Australian local governments. We must improve asset management and financial management. Councils that plan and manage their assets effectively are councils that can deliver value for money to their communities. We need to know what we've got, what condition it is in, whether it needs to be repaired and how much it costs to maintain. The Commonwealth will also consider making its future infrastructure investments linked to the implementation of nationally consistent asset management systems Local Government and Planning Minister s Council The Local Government and Planning Ministers Council (LGPMC) at their meeting on 26 March 2007 endorsed three nationally consistent frameworks for assessing financial sustainability, asset planning and management and financial planning and reporting and agreed that each State and Territory governments apply the frameworks in the context of their relationships with their local government sectors 3. The three frameworks are: Assessing local government financial sustainability Asset planning and management, and Financial planning and reporting. 4 This framework provides tools for all local government authorities that are consistent across the areas of financial sustainability, asset planning and management, and financial planning and reporting. The guiding principles of the national framework include a nationally consistent approach to financial planning and reporting which is not limiting and allows implementation of other elements in accordance with local state and local contexts. 2 Prime Minister s address at Australian Council of Local Governments Meeting, 18 November LGMPC, 26 March 2007, 4 LGMPC, 26 March 2007,

14 [4] 5.3 Enhanced National Frameworks The May 2009 meeting of the Local Government and Planning Ministers Council agreed to the enhancement of existing nationally consistent frameworks on local government asset and financial management frameworks to assist councils improve their asset and financial management and planning. They also committed to the acceleration of the implementation of the frameworks. State and Territory governments have committed to implementing these new frameworks in consultation with local government with a target date of 31 December Framework 1 Assessing Local Government Financial Sustainability The first National Framework covers Criteria for Assessing Financial Sustainability and includes two elements: 1. Use of indicators, and 2. Indicators for a national framework Use of indicators The framework states that indicators are signals used to convey evidence of certain directions being taken by a council and to assess whether or not desired outcomes are being achieved. To be effective, indicators should: measure factors which define financial sustainability, be relatively few in numbers, and be based on information that is readily available and reliable, Indicators are measures of outputs or outcomes, individually and without associated explanations, they can only ever tell part of the story. It is important to put indicator results in context and to understand that they only give an indication of where to start looking for the reasons behind differences. The usefulness of indicators is not in the numbers themselves but in the analysis of what is driving the indicator Indicators for a National Framework The framework contains four indicators of financial sustainability and characteristics that may indicate a need for closer examination of the indicators. These are shown in Table 1. 5 ACLG, 2009, Information Paper Asset Management and Financial Planning. 6 LGPMC, 2007, Framework 1, Criteria for Assessing Financial Sustainability, p 3.

15 [5] Table 1: Financial Sustainability Indicators for a National Framework Indicator Indicator Component Characteristics indicating need for closer examination I. Income generating Rates Substantial fluctuations in adopted rate increases effects Rate levels are considerably different to the group median of comparable councils, particularly where councils indicate a long term inability to maintain and renew asses, have persistent underlying operating deficits and significant debt Other own source Lack of transparency in determining pricing of services revenue Operating costs Significant and continuous annual increases in operating costs per assessment Operating results Occurrence of consistent operating deficits Adopted resource plan does not make adequate provision to rectify the situation II. III. IV. Efficiently delivered services appropriate to need Short and long term financial sustainability Ability to maintain, renew and upgrade assets Service levels and costs Absence of robust community engagement process to determine appropriate service levels Liquidity Difficulty in meeting short term financial obligations being experienced No prospect of improvement is evident Debt Councils may be considered less sustainable where: Debt limits capacity to fund essential needs and negatively impacts on capacity to provide operational services Future generations face an unmanageable bill for service provided for current ratepayers The level of net interest costs associated with debt cannot be met conformably from a council s operating revenue Asset renewal Spending is considerably less on capital works compared to depreciation expense; or (preferably) Renewal levels as stipulated in the asset management plan as not being met, ie a renewal gap is not being addressed

16 5.5 Framework 2 Asset Planning and Management The enhanced National Framework for asset planning and management identifies seven elements. [6] 1. Development of a State Government Asset Management Policy/Statement providing high level guidance to councils. 2. All councils to have strategic asset management plans addressing current holdings, forecasts, alignment to strategic plans, defined levels of services and information on assets and subject to performance review. 3. Councils to assign roles and responsibilities for asset management between CEO, Council and senior managers to improve governance and ensure high level oversight and accountability. 4. States and Territories to develop mechanisms to ensure councils define the levels of service they expect to provide from their asset base 5. Enhance collection of asset management data to enable the identification of infrastructure gaps and allow for benchmarking within the sector and council groups 6. Provision (to councils) of a best practice framework to enable continuous improvement of asset management practices, including help in target setting, training, tools and guides 7. The Asset Management framework is to contain an evaluation component Development of an Asset Management Policy Element 1 requires States and Territories to develop an asset management policy statement setting out the policy framework for local government asset management and provides high level guidance to assist councils to develop their own asset management policy. The policy/statement shall encourage councils to develop their own asset management policy which: establishes the objectives for asset management providing a platform for service delivery, integrates asset management with council corporate and financial planning, assigns accountability and responsibility for service delivery together with asset management, broadly takes account of whole of life costing, service levels and financing options, and requires the adoption of an asset management plan informed by community consultation and local government financial reporting, and which is supported by training in financial and asset management.

17 [7] Strategy and Planning Under the strategy and planning element, Councils should be provided with guidance from the State on developing an asset management strategy and plans, the assumptions of which should be independently reviewed. Council s asset management strategy should support and implement its asset management policy. The development of an asset management strategy by councils will enable councils to show how their asset portfolio will meet the service delivery needs of their communities into the future, enable councils asset management policies to be achieved and ensure the integration of councils asset management with their long term strategic plans. The Asset Management Strategy/Strategic Plans will address the following: what assets do we currently have? what is the current situation with regard to council s assets and their management including current & forecast future needs and adequacy of funding? where do we want to be, including fit with goals and objectives of the council plan? how will we get there including a comparison between the current situation and the proposed future to highlight where strategies will need to be developed to cater for any changes? The Asset Management Plans will: include all assets on an asset register, provide information about assets, including particular actions required to provide a defined level of service in the most cost effective manner, incorporate risk management strategies, include financial information such as capital expenditure for renewing, upgrading and extending assets, include consideration of non asset service delivery solutions (leasing, private/public partnerships), recognise changes in service potential of assets, be subject to a performance review, outline an improvement program, and have clear linkages to other council strategic documents Governance and Management Arrangements The enhanced asset management framework will ensure councils apply and effect good governance and management arrangements which link asset management to service delivery. Evidence of good corporate governance in asset management would include councils: assigning roles and responsibilities for asset management between the CEO, the Council and senior managers/ asset managers, and having a mechanism in place to provide high level oversight of the delivery of council s asset management strategy and plan, and maintaining accountability mechanisms to ensure that council resources are appropriately utilised to address councils strategic plans and priorities.

18 [8] Defining Levels of Service States and Territories will develop mechanisms that ensure councils define the levels of service they expect to provide from their asset base. This would include ensuring that councils: establish service delivery needs and define service levels in consultation with the community, establish quality and cost standards for services to be delivered from assets, and regularly review their services in consultation with the community to determine the financial impact of a reduction, maintenance or increase in service Data and Systems The enhanced framework provides for the collection of asset management data to: enable the State and/or councils to measure asset management performance over time, identify infrastructure funding gaps, and enable councils to benchmark within the sector and council groups within their State and across Australia. Councils should also continually work to improve the consistency of the financial data they produce, particularly in relation to capital expenditure and the allocations between maintenance, renewal and upgrade Skills and Processes The enhanced asset management framework contains a continuous improvement program, which includes: providing councils with a whole of organisation perspective and a best practice framework to enable continuous improvement of their asset management practices. This would include helping councils to set targets for future improvement, developing and providing ongoing training programs for councillors, council management and officers on key asset management topics in partnership with peak bodies and agencies, and providing the sector with best practice guides on key asset management topics to improve condition assessment, valuation of assets and accounting treatment Evaluation An asset management framework should contain a mechanism which measures its effectiveness including the asset management programs and initiatives implemented. 7 7 LGPMC, May 2009, Framework 2, Asset Planning and Management, pp 3 5

19 5.6 Framework 3 Financial Planning and Reporting The Planning and Reporting National framework should be given effect through three elements: strategic longer term plan, annual budget, and annual report. [9] These documents provide a framework that covers the council s direction setting, monitoring and resource allocation Strategic Longer Term Plan The strategic longer term plan is to be for a fixed period. As a minimum it covers the term of office of the councillors as well as reflecting the needs of the community for the foreseeable future. The plan brings together the detailed requirements in the council s longer term plans such as the asset management plan and the longer term financial plan and details what council expects to do in the longer term. It also demonstrates how council intends to resource the plan. Public consultation with communities should be central to the development of strategic, longer term planning by councils. The plan should include: where the council is at that point in time current position, where it wants to get to vision and strategic objectives of the council, how it is going to get there strategies for achieving those objectives, mechanisms for monitoring the achievement of the objectives, and how the plan will be resourced Budget Councils prepare a budget for each financial year. The budget should include: estimates of revenue and expenditure with an explanation of the assumptions and methodologies underpinning the estimates, explanation of how revenue will be applied, connection to the strategic objectives, and explanation of the financial performance and position of the council. Information contained in the budget should be presented in a way which is usable and understandable by the community and which can be compared with the audited financial statements. Consultation with communities should be central to the development of the budget. Councils should leave sufficient time to include the outcomes of their community consultation process in preparing their budget.

20 [10] Annual Report Councils prepare an annual report in respect of each financial year. The annual report should be publically available within a reasonable time after the end of the financial year and include: a report on the council s operations during the financial year, audited financial statements for the financial year, an explanation to the community on variations between the budget and the actual results, and the impact on longer term strategic plan of such variances. The report of the council s operations (in the annual report) needs to include a broad range of information, particularly: reviews on the performance of the council against strategic objectives, information on a range of other matters such as major works undertaken, the range of activities undertaken, major policy initiatives and major changes in the council s functions or structures, and details about the council, including information about the councillors, the chief executive officer, senior officers and the organisational structure. Financial statements compiled on an accruals basis in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards and are independently audited, complete the annual report Applying the National Framework to Tasmania The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) has assessed the implications of implementing the National Frameworks for Tasmanian councils. A summary is shown below Financial Planning and Reporting The National Framework refers to strategic (longer term) plans. Tasmanian legislation requires the preparation of a 5 year strategic plan, prepared in consultation with the community and an Annual Plan which is consistent with the strategic plan. However there is no legislative requirement to link resourcing with the strategic plan and this is a key feature of the National Framework. The National Frameworks do not specifically refer to long term financial plans. However, in 2007 Access Economics recommended that Tasmanian councils adopt a multi year budgeting framework, with a council s budgetary forward estimates being the first three to five years of a long term (10 year) financial plan. 9 Long term financial planning is not a requirement of current Tasmanian legislation or Australian Accounting Standards. However, some State Governments have introduced or are considering legislation requiring Local Government to develop and maintain long term financial plans (at least 10 years) based on sound asset management plans. Generally it is not the intent that legislation is prescriptive about how plans are prepared. The focus is on requiring councils to demonstrate to their communities and other stakeholders, that they are financially sustainable into the future. 8 LGPMC, May 2009, Framework 3, Financial Planning and Reporting, pp Access Economics, 2007, A Review of the Financial Sustainability of Local Government in Tasmania, p 55

21 [11] Long term financial planning is an iterative process and takes considerable effort to get it right. Plans need to be discussed, reviewed and fine tuned in response to such issues as interest rates and inputs from the community on expected service standards. The process of long term financial planning ideally draws together the various objectives, strategies and outcomes from a council s strategic plan and translates them into dollar amounts and performance measures that can be monitored. Specific matters that need to be considered to ensure the financial planning process is effective include assumptions around planning (i.e. inflation, interest rates, demography, business and individual incomes, demand for services); revenue forecasts (i.e. capacity to tax, user pays, grants and subsidies, borrowings, cash reserves); expenditure forecasts (i.e. recurrent and new) and sensitivity analysis that details the various assumptions underpinning the planning process. While templates have been developed in other jurisdictions, there is a need to adapt these to the Tasmanian environment and then provide the appropriate training and capacity building to key council personnel to develop these plans. A legislative framework is likely the most effective tool to drive the reform but it must be underpinned by mechanisms that support councils in the initial period and in ongoing development of these plans. It is anticipated that long term financial plans will eventually be auditable documents. The South Australia Local Government Association published a recommended format for the long term financial plans produced by councils in that State 10. Initial research by LGAT on the utility of this framework in Tasmania indicated this was a suitable form which could be further developed, with clear, meaningful layout that could be further developed if necessary. Although, this commentary was often with the proviso that the completion that provision of information did not place additional onerous and time consuming responsibilities in relation to compliance. Areas identified in the research which may need further development or consideration include: community support contract work avoiding accounting jargon and making them easily understood need to understand interpretations/definitions behind broad headings Asset Management The 2007 report by Access Economics, Financial Sustainability Review noted that in Tasmania, a formal and more rigorous approach to managing infrastructure is necessary, and this must involve the establishment of long term asset management plans. Without accounting for the formal long term asset management needs, a long term financial plan will only be of limited value LGASA, 2007, Financial Sustainability Info Paper 8 Long Term Financial Plans 11 Access Economics, 2007, p 63.

22 [12] A number of recommendations were made in relation to asset management. These included: that LGAT further develop its Asset Management Improvement Program, perhaps in partnership with the Institute of Public Works Engineers and the State Government s Local Government Division, with a view to achieving full participation by all Councils and crating templates to assist councils in preparing their asset management plans. that each council work towards establishing a comprehensive 10 year asset management plan addressing the issues of infrastructure renewal, upgrade and replacement that is integrated within their long term (10 year) financial plan. 12 A survey of councils asset management practices was conducted by LGAT in January 08. From that survey it is evident that: there is a great deal of variation in the level of activity, approaches, timeframes and resourcing of asset management planning across Tasmanian councils, it is clear that some councils are struggling and could potentially benefit from clear tools and guidelines, resourcing is a critical issue, particularly for smaller councils, particular in relation to maintaining asset registers and monitoring the infrastructure backlog and renewals gap, this means there are likely key data gaps in relation to the development of asset management plans that are future looking, the variation in areas like asset valuation and costings means it is difficult to have good comparability between councils. Strategic Asset Management Plans (SAMPs) are not currently required in Tasmania under the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act). However legislated requirements include: a five year (minimum) strategic plan for the municipality developed through community consultation (Section 66), annual plans for each financial year that are aligned with the strategic plan and which summarise major strategies (Section 71), the preparation of estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year (Section 82, and records of assets and liabilities (Section 83). A legislated requirement that links the asset management regime to the previously outlined financial planning process is a key consideration in this process, as is the expectation that there will be some auditable components in the long term. The International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM) outlines internationally accepted best practice in Asset Management. Section A.1 outlines an Asset Management Plan Structure. 12 Access Economics, 2007, p 84.

23 [13] Broadly, the key elements of asset management, as outlined in the IIMM are: taking a lifecycle approach, use the best current information and random condition/performance sampling, developing cost effective management strategies for the long term, providing a defined level of services and monitoring performance, understanding and meeting the impact of growth through demand management and infrastructure investment, managing risks association with asset failures, sustainable use of physical resources, continuous improvement in asset management practices. 13 These clearly align with the National Framework. Financial and asset management plans must be linked to the strategic plan and each other. IPWEA suggest there is merit in quickly developing an Asset Management plan which initially meets the minimum functionality/requirements rather than waiting until more information becomes available or improved systems and processes are in place. Such first plans should clearly articulate assumptions and the intended program of improvement planning. IPWEA have developed the NAMS.PLUS 14 tools for asset management (this was recommended for use in Tasmania by Access Economics) using the IIMM as the foundation. However there are other tools and guidelines in the market which would also comply with the broad framework. It is proposed that adherence to the IIMM be used by all councils but that councils can choose whether to opt into the IPWEA training. There is a need to identify what support is required to assist councils to achieve the desired outcomes. 6. Regional Consultation Forums LGAT invited all Tasmanian councils to participate in three regional consultation forums located in the South (Hobart), North (Launceston) and North West (Devonport) Regions. 22 Councils attended the regional forums. One of the pilot councils (Kentish) was unable to attend the North West forum and the consultants briefed their representatives at a site meeting on 19 July. Details of councils attending the regional consultation forums are shown in Appendix A. The program for the regional consultation forums was: 1. Welcome and introduction 2. The common Framework for Tasmania 3. IPWEA NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model 4. Assessing the benefits group discussions 5. Assessing the barriers group discussions 6. Summary and close 13 IPWEA, 2006, International Infrastructure Management Manual, Sec 1.1.3, p IPWEA, 2007, NAMS.PLUS Asset Management

24 [14] The forums commenced with an outline of the project objectives and the common framework selected for Tasmania being the: the Enhanced National Frameworks on Financial Planning and Reporting and Asset Planning and Management, the South Australian Long Term Financial Plan template, the International Infrastructure Management Manual Asset Management Plan structure outlined in Appendix A of the Manual. The enhanced national frameworks set the direction for Tasmanian councils and the long term financial plan template and asset management plan template provide the tools to prepare long term financial plan and asset management plans. 6.1 IPWEA NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model The IPWEA NAMS.PLUS Maturity Model is an enhancement of the NAMS.PLUS Gap Analysis Asset Management Performance and Capacity used by the IPWEA to promote consistency in development of asset management plans. The NAMS.PLUS maturity model is based on the International Infrastructure Management Manual 15 and was developed in partnership with Gold Coast City Council (Qld) and will be added to the IPWEA NAMS.PLUS suite of templates and tools to assist practitioners write their asset management plans. The maturity model has been further developed to align with the enhanced national frameworks for financial planning and reporting and asset planning and management. The maturity model: fits the national objectives for improved asset management, is usable by council staff to undertake an objective (measurable) self assessment, allows an internal/external auditor to assess and confirm the council internal assessment findings, allows repeatability so that subsequent assessments give progressive change in maturity, is applicable at various levels of management and the results can be aggregated to provide a corporate level assessment of asset management maturity, allows identification of opportunities for improvement, satisfies stakeholders that the council understands asset management and has a sound basis for driving improvement. The maturity model comprises 35 practice areas covering the key functions of financial planning and reporting and asset planning and management as applied across the council organisation. Each practice area has been assigned a capability category, being the dominant capability associated with that area from the categories of governance, people, processes, technology and data. An outline of the practice areas in the maturity model together with their framework and element is shown in Table 2. Each of the 35 practice areas comprises several characteristics grouped to describe level of maturity within the organisation. The maturity characteristics associated with the Strategic Longer Term Plan practice area are shown in Table 3. Achieving a maturity level requires the attainment of all characteristics within the maturity level. Core maturity is assessed at a maturity score of IPWEA, 2006.

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