February 11, 2019
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell has refuted suggestions a $767,000 tax refund claim for four years of overpaid fuel credits was caused by Council incompetence.
The tax refund claim was announced at the Council’s January 16 meeting and is currently being assessed by the ATO.
On Monday, Mayor Campbell said the refund claim arose after Council’s auditors KPMG were engaged to conduct a review of the Council’s Fuel Rebate system.
The review was initiated by the Council as part of an ongoing examination of its purchasing systems, and was separate to KPMG’s annual audit of Council’s finances.
“KPMG were asked to conduct this review using business tools not available to Council,” Mayor Campbell said.
“SBRC initiated the review to improve the process of the Fuel Rebate system.
“Finding a consultant with a user-friendly business tool helped Council better analyse the fuel rebates across a number of different locations and departments that Council operates.
“This review went back four years.”
The Mayor said similar procurement reviews had already resulted in significant savings.
An earlier review of Council’s electricity usage and tariffs had resulted in Council adopting a different approach which produced ongoing savings of about $180,000 per year.
“These reviews have been facilitated by Council in changing how we are doing business, and filling some former traditional roles with dedicated/professional in-house procurement personnel,” Mayor Campbell said.
“The processes have been improved.
“Yes, it resulted in a windfall through Council challenging the methodology of previous submissions.
“Remember, though, the final outcome is still the subject of an ATO review and assessment.
“Ratepayers should be forming a confidence in the policy and strategic direction of Council in reviewing and continuing to improve processes and adopting a different approach.”
The Mayor said the Council was looking at any opportunity to trim down its operational costs in a responsible manner to lessen the burden on ratepayers.
“Getting expert advice in order to operate in the most sustainable manner possible is – and will continue to be – our approach,” he said.