Finance portfolio chair
Cr Ros Heit

October 23, 2019

South Burnett Regional Council has to refund $322,212 to the Australian Tax Office due to a software error.

But it is still $444,788 ahead of where it could have been.

In January, Council lodged a claim for a $767,000 refund from the ATO for fuel credits it believed had been incorrectly paid for four years.

This amount was uncovered by auditors KPMG Australia who used special auditing software to analyse Council’s motor vehicle usage.

However, it now seems there was a glitch in this software.

At Wednesday’s Council meeting, Finance portfolio chair Cr Ros Heit said the ATO had re-assessed Council’s claim.

The ATO found that the software used by KPMG to analyse fuel consumption had remained turned on for six hours after a vehicle’s engine was turned off.

This led the software to conclude the engine was still using fuel, which resulted in the large retrospective fuel credit claim.

The ATO has now ordered Council refund $322,212 of its January claim.

Cr Heit said the ATO refund and slight increases in water and waste costs would increase Council’s projected 2019-20 operating deficit from $1,539,950 to $1,862,162.

KPMG was appointed as Council’s auditor by Queensland’s Auditor-General last year.

The Auditor-General appoints external accounting firms to audit the financial statements of all Queensland councils each year as part of standard measures to analyse the performance of councils, and the timeliness and quality of their financial reporting.

7 Responses to "Software Glitch Leads To Payout"

  1. Mark Luck  October 24, 2019

    OMG, where does it end? Is there anything our council can get right? Mr Mayor, I await your explanation.

  2. Still Disgruntled  October 25, 2019

    This surely sounds as if it is another episode of “Yes Minister”, our own local version!!

    Please refer to the related article and read it thoroughly as well as the comments.

    Hey, they stuffed up, then claimed and then {as the loot is on its way} decided to blow 400 big ones on a project and now have to come up with a big refund. Sounds a bit suss to me!

    Hey, proper protocols of the industry of Government used to be that the Minister of a department falls on their sword if that department has a big fail. Will that happen here?

    How much more are the SBRC ratepayers going to have to put up with? The excuse given sounds to me to be an excuse conjured up when one is desperately needed.

  3. Bill Weir  October 25, 2019

    Huh? I don’t see a problem here. Council gets new auditors, those auditors find $767K in alleged overpayments, so Council claims it back. Then the ATO looks at the auditors’ work, finds they’ve overstated the claim by $322K, and requests a refund. End result? Council has still clawed back $445K and now have a better system that will avoid any more fuel tax overpayments in future. That’s a win in my book.

  4. Mark Luck  October 25, 2019

    Can someone explain how a vehicle engine running for 6 hrs can attract a fuel rebate of $322,000.00

  5. Disgruntled  November 4, 2019

    Bill, mate. I’m more than a little bemused with your blasé attitude towards Council’s administration. Obviously the issue was fuel excise and the staff responsible should have done better. Actually it is as if it was “she’ll be right mate, no bother, the poor ratepayer will pick up the difference”. That is NOT good enough at all! It really is not.

    In another life [pre electricity availability at pump sites] I was using over 500 litres of diesel daily just pumping water, day in day out, weeks on end, and I can tell you if I did not claim that the bottom line would have probably been red! It’s not hard and if I could do it, why could the council staff not manage? Why not I ask again??

  6. Bill Weir  November 4, 2019

    I look at it this way, Disgruntled: previous staff and previous auditors thought they were getting it right, then smart new auditors stepped in with complex software which discovered that no, they weren’t. That’s a pretty sophisticated way to find an error, but thank goodness they did.

    How is this situation any different from Council sending out staff to assess road conditions for donkey’s years, then buying a new automated system that does it faster, better and in a more uniform way? Or reassessing its power usage and carving out some big savings off what it used to pay for power?

    Technology moves on, and when it does our Council should be encouraged to take advantage of it to do things faster, better and (most importantly) cheaper – not get scapegoated because the new tech generates savings that weren’t available until it was put to work. And please don’t tell me that if you could’ve found a device to save on diesel you wouldn’t have taken it up, then kicked yourself for the money wasted during the time you didn’t know that device existed.

  7. Disgruntled  November 6, 2019

    Bill, you appear to be running “protection” for the council and it would seem that you are techno-happy too. Hey if it is not broke, why stuff it up! Hey, just how much loot has the council missed out on in the years prior to auditors finding the glitch? Fancy technology didn’t work here did it? What about the $400,000 earmarked to spend, was it spent, or not? This was spending based on lucky money which didn’t really turn out as expected, eh.

    The council must surely have a weird and fancy software program in it’s dog department also!!! Last Thursday {31/10/19} I had a notice served at home for an unregistered dog, with seven days to take action or else! I received a phone call from home and as I was in Kingaroy at the time I went to the office and was informed nicely that the dog was in fact currently registered in about half a minute. I knew that and council records knew that. What to do next??? Yesterday I managed to track down the officer and asked what possessed her to consider that the dog was not registered and she whipped out a folder with a print out stating that the dog was not registered, supplied by none other than the council no less. Hey Bill, what do you suggest I do now? This has caused some considerable stress (fancy technology, eh?)

    Some years ago when we moved to town we had two old mates, high rego fees as dogs were too old to be chipped and de-knackered. One guy later passed on mid rego year and I requested a pro-rata refund but missed out as it was a few days past mid term. OK that’s fine, they had the info of no dog. Next bill only one dog, Good. But next bill after, existing dog + dead dog as well as extra for year before. Blimey how could this happen? And you try to tell me that technology is grand, eh?

    Your second paragraph, I guess you are referring to Raccas. Quite frankly I haven’t really noticed anything different, and would perhaps consider that the purchase cost and the use cost and the recover data and work on that cost would be far in excess of the hoped for benefit. The work would still have to be checked by the old way, that is a good experienced practical guy. At the end of the day I suspect Raccas is an expensive process that was not really needed at all is this area. Hey, I was told that a neighbour shire bought one and even used it on the Black Snake Range Road, queer that!!

    Bill, your last sentence is a little queer. The only technology to save diesel when pumping is to turn the pump off and pray for rain. Tried that, but the crop died.

    I saved a lot of diesel though years ago by changing entirely to zero till with permanent tracking, fairly high cost to set that up, but that has nothing to do with pumping, no silver bullet there!!


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