Important Notice To all Members of Permaculture Noosa Incorporated – A Case for Ceasing Annual Audits of PCN Financials

On Thursday 27th April 2017 the Permaculture Noosa Elected Committee passed a motion to the affect that a vote be put to the members at the AGM 2017, on the need or otherwise, for an audit of the financials of PCN be undertaken each year. The committee is required to notify all members giving at least 30 days notice of the intention to propose a member vote.

As Treasurer, I have brought this question to the committee. My reasons for doing so, are spelled out below. Please read my thoughts below and be aware that whilst this has been written from my point of view, the committee has agreed that this question be put to the members, by their majority vote.

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A Case for ceasing Annual Audits of PCN Financials.

26/5/17

Hello Members

You may or may not know that each year Permaculture Noosa’s (PCN) Financials are audited. At the AGM in October 2015 members were asked to vote on whether or not we were in favour of continuing with an audit each year, or against. The vote was in favour of continuing with an annual audit.

The auditor, at financial year-end 2016, after completing the audit, resigned from continuing to undertake the audit for PCN. The cost of audit up until that time was $600.

Understandably, the majority of members voted in favour of continuing with audits, one, possibly, not enough information was presented on the matter, so a lack of understanding either way, and 2, perhaps because of the concern for possible theft when not having a third party visual on transactions.

Since we don’t have an auditor in place, I believe it is time for us to come to a decision to ask the members to vote once again, this time with all the information they need to make an educated decision on the vote. I voted to continue with an audit, due to not knowing enough about the subject to make such a drastic decision to vote against.

I make it clear that these are my considerations only, The committee has made some very welcome changes in regard to the workload of committee members over the past few months, and we have made it our priority to bring a buddy system into the roles of President, Publicity Officer, Secretary, and Treasurer.

As treasurer, I have a buddy, Cheryl. Cheryl takes on the roles of attending club and committee meetings. She takes care of the floats and hands them to the Raffle, Supper etc coordinators, and receipts their takings at the end of each meeting. The coordinators check the cash counting and receive a copy of their receipt after they have countersigned it. Cheryl then completes the Meeting Income & Expenses sheet, which shows all of the takings from the club night. Cheryl emails this to me to check, and once I can see that everything tally’s, I email it to the full committee for their perusal. Cheryl then banks that amount, within a day or so after the club meeting, or when time permits with her busy schedule. This deposit information can be correlated with the bank statement.

Should there be an Open Garden or a special event such as Cooroy Fusion, World Environment Day, etc in the interim, I then bank the money coming from that occasion. The only checks we have as far as those ‘special events’ cash takings is concerned, are the amazing people who want to support such an event and also support promoting Permaculture Noosa to the public, who give of their time to forward the permaculture ethos.

My case for a vote against an audit, in dot point below, will stand, whilst the PCN Committee follow the buddy system procedure, so that there are at least 4 sets of eye on the income, receipting and counting on club meeting night. Club meeting nights are where 90% of the income is handled. The other important check on income activity is that we provide copies of the Monthly Meeting Income & Expenses sheet on the website, as well as the Monthly Treasurer’s Reports, so that it can be perused by all members and friends. Eg. The raffle, supper, and seed saving coordinators are able to see that the amount they were receipted is the amount that is showing on the monthly sheet.

It is worth knowing, that in the preceding years, including last Audit 2016, the auditor admonished PCN in not providing checks and balances by way of individual receipts for each raffle ticket sold, each supper donation and each seed packet sale. Meaning that we must receipt each single sale of the items, in order to be compliant with the audit. The frustration of the auditor, over our non-compliance in this area, over the preceding years, I believe, was the catalyst for their having resigned from auditing our books. We currently do not have an auditor in place.

Lastly, my feelings on doing away with the audit so long as those checks above are in place, are the cost of such an audit. The audit for the past few years has been charged at $600, which may increase should we go ahead with auditing into the future. Whilst we are a ‘not for profit’ incorporated group, the audit cost has a massive impact on our income. That income, I personally, would like to see used to further the permaculture story and broaden the support we provide to community.

Members, please feel free to respond to the above, I believe the more viewpoints we have the better the decision process is in place. I welcome any questions or discussions you would like to pose.

Thank you
Wendy Strathearn
Treasurer
PCN

See below dot points.

  • All transactions are overseen by at least 2 other people, and available for scrutiny.
  • Those handing over cash are receipted, and have checked the accuracy of the count. Eg. Total supper takings receipted to the supper coordinator.
  • All members have website visibility of the Monthly Income & Expenses sheet, as well as the Treasurer’s Report.
  • Receipt books and paper trails are available on request.
  • All procedures currently in place must be adhered to. Eg second signatories, well kept records.

2 thoughts on “Important Notice To all Members of Permaculture Noosa Incorporated – A Case for Ceasing Annual Audits of PCN Financials

  1. Julie McKenzie says:

    I have read your case for ceasing annual audits of PCN Financials in its entirety and you have made some constructive points on why the audit should cease. I have a substantial history in looking after monies for non-profit organisations and believe that cash received should always be counted, recorded and signed off by at least 2 members before being handed to or banked by the Treasurer. Monthly reports posted to the website for all members to peruse at their will should be sufficient oversight of the income and expenses of PCN. I thought the request by the Auditor to have every raffle ticket, seed packet and tea/coffee sold to be receipted, onerous and a waste of PCN resources. I also think that $600 is a lot to pay for auditing when PCN doesn’t have a large income. My one question is ‘Does PCN have to have audited books for The Office of Fair Trading’?

  2. Wendy Strathearn says:

    Thank you Julie, I appreciate you taking the time to consider and respond. My understanding, is that the audit becomes invoked once the members have voted to continue with it. I am not exactly sure of the % of votes either way for it to become the for or against, but I feel it is in the vicinity of 76%, but as I say that is just my feeling. I shall speak to the ever reliable Ian Trew for confirmation and once I have that information I will post it here.

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