FinPro Professional Development Seminar – Friday 22 February 2019

February 26, 2019

The first FinPro Seminar for 2019 was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) on Friday 22 February 2019.  This was a new venue for the group and it did not disappoint those who attended.

Bradley Thomas’ “Inaugural President’s Welcome Speech” was well received, capturing the essence of what FinPro is hoping to achieve over the foreseeable future.  FinPro 22 February 2019 – Presidents Welcome

The Victorian Valuer General, Robert Marsh then presented.  He took the group back 175 years to give an informative talk about the history of Valuations in Victoria, making the most of the opportunity to explain what the role of the Valuer General is, how it has changed over the years and how that fits into the various other government departments.  The move to annual valuations was of interest to al,l particularly the move from a 5 stage process down to 4 stages and the implications of this in relation to data provision and rate/budget setting. Robert urged finance professionals to keep in close contact and develop good working relationships with their contract providers to ensure smooth processes on both sides.

FinPro 22 February 2019 – Valuer General Part 1

FinPro 22 February 2019 – Valuer General Part 2_compressed

Graeme Emonson then provided some insight into the where the Local Government (LG) Act review process was at.  Simply put, the 2018 Bill has lapsed so a new 2019 Bill will need to be put forward – hopefully incorporating most of the previous work, but obviously with some amendments.  The new Minister for LG has made it clear that he is very keen to be out and about meeting Councils and is starting with the small rural councils but hopes to get to all councils over time.

The Minister has also released the Local Government Performance Reporting Framework Strategic Directions Paper 2018-21 and encouraged members, where possible, to be involved.  The Technical Committee of FinPro is currently reviewing the recommendations.

Waste continues to be a hot topic with local and state government working together with the sector to develop key contract clauses and guidelines as a resource for councils. A pricing model has also been developed by the metro working group which has been circulated to CEO’s, but will also be provided to members.

Graeme talked about the Rural Councils Transformation Project (RCTP) which aimed at large scale transformative projects.  This is providing unmatched funding of between $2-$5m to see real change in long term sustainability.  Of the 11 EOI’s received, 7 are proceeding to Business Case Development.

He reminded attendees that the Finance and Accounting Support Team currently have Stream two grants (Round 6) open until mid-March. A mid-term report has also been prepared and can be found on the LGV website.

One of the Government’s pre-election commitments was a Rating Review. The Minister has indicated this will be a comprehensive review with the consultative process to commence in the first ½ of 2019. Terms of Reference and appointment of a panel will probably occur around April/May.

In closing, Graeme spoke of the very pleasing relationship between LGV, FinPro and the Sector in general.  The work on the model budget, model statements and standards working groups are great examples of collaboration and what can be achieved with everyone working towards the same goals.

The Model Budget & Model Statements are available on the LGV website

The Panel discussion around accounting standards was next. A big thank you to the Working Group comprising FinPro members and staff from both LGV and Crowe Horwath.

The guidance materials can be found also on the LGV website.  Coupled with webinars scheduled over coming months, the Guidance should help members considerably to meet the requirements and assure audit committees etc of readiness for implementation.

A copy of the presentation given is also available:   FinPro 22 February 2019 – Accounting Standards Changes

A superb lunch was provided in the foyer with plenty for all.  A few logistics to sort out, but overall great and no-one went hungry.

There was definitely no time for an after-lunch slump!!! Lord Mayor Sally Capp was fantastic to listen to.  What an amazing and inspiring person.  So many firsts and yet still so energetic and enthusiastic about so much. She won me over the minute she admitted that LG is the most important tier of government!!! But backing it up with facts that it’s also the most “trusted” level of government as well.  It was an eye opener for me about what Melbourne’s challenges are – particularly around the homeless population and the other challenges she raised. Two key quotes I noted are:

“People are the new Goldrush for Victoria”, and

“The question is not about how we are going to cope with the population increase, it’s how are we going to work together to cope with the population increase.

The Cardina Shire Council Finance Team – headed up by Helen de la Plaza – presented on their “Embracing artificially intelligence solutions for process automation” project.  This project won them the 2018 FinPro Local Government Finance Award.

This project saw that massive change not only from a paper-based accounts payable system to paperless, but also the incorporation of smart technology to streamline the processes and provide a higher level of service to the entire organisation. A truly transformative project. The before and after pics are worth a look!!   FinPro 22 February 2019 – Cardinia Shire Innovation

The final speaker was Johnathan Kyvelidis from VAGO.  As always a tough gig to be the final speaker on a Friday afternoon, but Johnathan held his own and kept everyone’s attention to the very end. The release of the 2017/18 report on Local Government, audit focus areas for 2018/19 and future work areas.  Johnathan is also hoping to increase engagement around performance auditing within the sector. FinPro 22 February 2019 – VAGO Presentation

Of interest is also a recent report release by IBAC around Operation Topi – definitely worth a read.