It’s that time of the year, where councils are well into preparing their end of financial year reporting and will need to report on the condition of their infrastructure assets in Special Schedule 7 (SS7). Working with NSW councils year on year, we observe inconsistencies with how councils are reporting SS7 between themselves and across financial years. At its core SS7 is an essential document for local government, as not only does it tell you what your asset expenditure and condition is, it also clearly articulates what you should be spending on your assets in any given year.
We are currently in a highly uncertain environment, where the effects of COVID-19 on our communities are still unclear. We know that in the past year many councils experienced significant decreases in income and local economies suffered, and, just as a sense of normality was being achieved, we have again been plunged back into uncertainty. There has been, and will continue to be, additional state and federal spending to provide a stimulus kick to local economies, and targeted infrastructure spending will likely be a priority.
In prioritising grant applications, it is essential that priority projects help maintain and improve organisational sustainably. Understanding your asset condition and current expenditure will allow an organisation to target grant applications. Producing a reliable and realistic report on the current state of your infrastructure (SS7) will feed into your Long Term Financial Plan and help guide your overall financial sustainability measures.
We appreciate the importance of understanding your organisation’s present and future infrastructure needs and the importance of accurate infrastructure reporting via Special Schedule 7. If the SS7 can provide a realistic picture of your asset condition, and on the asset actual and required expenditure for the year, it can not only provide a valuable tool in developing your long-term asset expenditure requirements but also highlight where your infrastructure issues really are.
Morrison Low has reviewed more than 20 councils’ Special Schedule 7s for the current and previous financial years. We cannot stress enough that, for consistent reporting, councils must adopt a systematic, repeatable and justifiable process for determining SS7.
Through our work for the Office of Local Government on the NSW Infrastructure Audit, the Far West Councils’ initiative and numerous other councils, we have developed a robust model that realistically and consistently produces an annual SS7 statement.
Morrison Low reviews SS7 in the following way:
Upon completion of the review process, we provide a report setting out the following:
We undertake this analysis for a fixed fee and can complete our deliverables within two weeks. We are able to work within your council’s financial reporting timeframe.