Mudtopia sinks into the bog of history


The Office of the Auditor-General has decided against drilling down further into the Mudtopia debacle but has given the Rotorua District Council a reminder regarding additional funding approvals.

The Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers had asked the office to inquire into the council’s financial management of the Mudtopia event, the bog that sucked hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars into its murky depths.

However, the Auditor General says, apart from a procedural error, it can find no reason to carry out a formal inquiry or forensic audit into the matters raised by the group.

The decision reads as follows:

“After examining documents provided by the correspondent and Council, and talking to Council staff, we will not be carrying out a formal inquiry or forensic audit into the matters raised.

“The expenses incurred by the Council from the Mudtopia event are already in the public arena for scrutiny. The public has the ability to question the Council about individual expenses and hold the Council accountable for those.

“While we accept that the Operations and Monitoring Committee agreed in August 2017 to continue supporting the event, even with an increased financial risk profile, on balance we are of the view that as Council (and not a committee of Council) had capped the financial exposure to $500,000 that there should have been another Council resolution expressly permitting the Council to accept the additional financial exposure.

“Similarly, we believe that the decision on the final form of governance arrangements should have been approved by Council, although we acknowledge that the December 2015 resolution on this matter was ambiguously worded.

“Our expectation is that public entities need full and proper records of their work that show what decisions were made, how they made them, and the basis on which they were made.”

Mayor Steve Chadwick and joint RDRR chairs Glenys Searancke and Reynold Macpherson have published releases – the mayor lambasting the wasted time and resources; and the RDRR chairs noting their original question of Mudtopia’s rationale has yet to be justified. 

A release has also been produced by RLC chief executive Geoff Williams accepting the Audit Office’s note regarding having clear, recorded council decision when funding is increased beyond a previously agreed council limit.

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