An independent external auditor will assess the commercial operations of Warrnambool saleyards for the past four years.
Councillors voted behind closed doors for the independent review in a lengthy and robust meeting with council officers after concerns were raised about the accuracy of information released as part of a debate on the facility's future.
Warrnambool council audit committee chairman Leon Fitzgerald resigned late last month and expressed concerns about what he described as "misinformation" being provided to the community during the consultation process on the future of the yards.
City councillors voted 4-3 against awarding a tender to spend up to $5.66 million on saleyards upgrades at its August meeting, throwing doubt over the facility. Councillors instead voted to begin stakeholder and community engagement on the implications of not committing to the works.
Mr Fitzgerald last week claimed the saleyards would never again make a profit even with a $5.6 million investment.
Warrnambool mayor Vicki Jellie confirmed to The Standard councillors voted for an independent audit of information.
She said with recent conjecture about the financial viability of the saleyards, the council felt it was important to ensure an updated commercial analysis was completed, similar to what was done in 2010 when the saleyards' future was last considered.
The auditor's assessment for between July 2017 and currently is required to be completed before the council's November 7 meeting, when it's expected a decision will be made on the facility's future.
"This council has chosen to get an external opinion on the presentation of the figures as a full commercial entity to present all views of the business," Cr Jellie said.
"Once completed, we will be releasing this information as part of updates to the community and will use this updated information as another lens for our consideration.
"Likewise we are completing a review of the economic impact of the saleyards as was done in the last review of the saleyards' future.
"So all information can be considered from all aspects of the selling centre's operations."
The audit will have the following objectives:
- Accuracy and completeness of net surplus reporting,
- Investigate a full commercial modelling of the saleyards,
- Delegation of authority and procurement compliance, and
- Assess the BDO consultant's report previously presented to council.
The overall audit assessment is to ensure any procurement for the defined period falls in line with council's procurement policy and obligations under the Local Government Act 2020.
The auditor is also to assess the scope of works made to consultant BDO by council in relation to an analysis of the SWVLX and will also consider any supporting information provided to the firm by council to assist it in developing the report.
The analysis is to also provide information about the methodology used to ascertain the assumptions on the future stock turnover numbers.
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