Finance and Accounts

The accounts for Gillingham Town council are operated and controlled by the Town Clerk as the Proper Officer of the Couincil.

The Financial Regulations controlling the accounts are as follows:

1. FINANCIAL REGULATIONS IAW ACCOUNTS & AUDIT REGULATIONS 2003

GENERAL

a. These regulations shall govern the conduct of the financial transactions of Gillingham Town Council and may only be amended or varied by resolution of the council.

b. The Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) under the policy direction of the Policy & Resources Committee (P & R Committee) shall be responsible for the proper administration of the council’s financial affairs.

c. The RFO shall be responsible for the production of financial management information.

2. ACCOUNTS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT AND CHEQUE AUTHORISATION/PAYMENTS

a. All accounts for payment and claims upon the Council shall be laid before the Council.

b. Where it is necessary to make a payment before it has been authorised by the Council, such payment shall be certified as to its correctness and urgency by the appropriate officer. Unless it has been otherwise authorised by the Council, payment shall be authorised by the committee, if any, having charge of the business to which it relates or by the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Council.

c. All payments made without authority of the Council shall be separately included in the next schedule of payments laid before the Council. Signing of cheques for payment shall be as follows:

(i). All cheques for payment will bear the signatures of two Councillors and that of the Proper Officer/duly authorised member of staff.

(ii). Cheques up to the value of £2,500 may be authorised for payment by any two of the following: Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chairman Policy & Resources, Chairman General Purposes or Chairman Development Control Recommendations Committee; this shall be in addition to the signature of the Proper Officer or duly authorised member of staff. This action is to be taken only when the urgency dictates that there is insufficient time to put this need before the relevant Committee.

(iii). In order that the time spent on the signing of authorised cheques during Committee meetings be reduced, it is necessary that only the checking against bills be carried out; the signing of cheques may take place ex-committee.

d. The Clerk shall supply to each member at the ordinary meeting next after the end of the financial year a statement of receipts and payments.

3. ANNUAL ESTIMATES (PRECEPT)

a. Detailed estimates of income and expenditure on revenue services, and receipts and payments on capital account, shall be prepared each year by the RFO.

b. Each council member shall formulate and submit proposals to the P & R Committee in respect of revenue services and capital projects for inclusion in the rolling capital programme (Precept) not later than the end of October each year.

c. The P & R Committee shall review the estimates and submit them to the council not later than the first week in December each year and shall recommend the Precept to be levied for the ensuing financial year. The RFO shall supply each member with a copy of the approved estimates.

d. The annual capital and revenue budgets shall form the basis of financial control for the ensuing year.

4. BUDGETARY CONTROL

a. Expenditure on the revenue account may be incurred up to the amounts included in each of the set accounts within the agree Precept.

b. No expenditure may be incurred which cannot be met from the amount provided in the appropriate accounts unless an exception of expenditure has been approved by the P & R Committee and ratified by Full Council.

c. The RFO shall quarterly provide the P & R Committee with a statement of income and expenditure to date.

d. The Clerk and Assistant Town Clerk/General Manager may incur expenditure on behalf of the council considered necessary to carry out any repair, replacement or other work which is of such urgency that it must be actioned at once, whether or not there is any budgetary provision for the expenditure, subject to a limit of £600.00. The term ‘urgency’ may assume the inclusion of an action of which formal approach to council would not be deemed necessary.

e. Unspent provisions in the revenue budget shall not be carried forward to a subsequent year unless specifically authorised and resolved by council.

f. No expenditure shall be incurred in relation to any capital projects and no contract entered into or tender accepted involving expenditure on capital account unless the committee concerned are satisfied that it is contained in the rolling capital programme and that the necessary capital funds are available, or the requisite borrowing approval can be obtained. This will then be subject to ratification by Full Council.

g. All capital works shall be administered in accordance with the council’s standing orders and financial regulations relating to contracts.

5. ACCOUNTING AND AUDIT

a. All accounting procedures and financial records of the council shall be determined by the RFO as required by the Accounts and Audit Regulations.

b. The RFO shall be responsible for completing the annual accounts of the council as soon as practicable after the end of the financial year and shall submit them to and report thereon to the P & R Committee.

c. The following principles shall be observed in connection with accounting duties

(i). The duty of providing information, calculating, checking and recording sums due to, or from, the council, should be separated as completely as possible from the duty of collecting or dispersing them.

(ii). The Internal Auditor charged with the duty of examining and checking the accounts of cash transactions should not be engaged in any of those transactions.

d. The RFO shall be responsible, through the Internal Auditor, for maintaining an adequate and effective system of internal audit of the council’s accounting, financial and other operations in accordance with Regulation 5 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.

6. BANKING ARRANGMENTS AND CHEQUES

a. The council’s banking arrangements shall be made by the RFO and approved by the P & R Committee. Accounts shall be maintained at the bank and through the NSB.

b. A schedule of the payment of money shall be prepared by the RFO and together with the relevant invoices etc presented to the P & R Committee; this shall be known as ‘Monthly Cheques for Payment’. If the schedule is in order it shall be authorised by a resolution of that committee and signed by the Chairman.

c. Cheques drawn on the accounts in accordance with the schedule referred to in the previous paragraph shall be signed by two Councillors and one of the Office Administration staff.

7. PAYMENTS OF ACCOUNTS

a. Apart from petty cash payments all payments shall be effected by cheque or other order drawn on the council’s bankers.

b. All invoices for payment shall be examined, verified and certified by the officer issuing the order. Before certifying an invoice the officer shall satisfy himself that the work, goods, or services to which the invoice relates have been received, carried out, examined and approved.

c. Duly certified invoices shall be passed to the RFO who shall examine them in relation to arithmetical accuracy and authorisation, and shall code them to the appropriate account. The RFO shall take all possible steps to settle all invoices submitted, and which are in order, within 30 days of their receipt.

d. The RFO may provide petty cash to officers for the purpose of defraying operational and other expenses. Vouchers for payments made shall be forwarded to the RFO with a claim for reimbursement:

(i). The RFO shall maintain a petty cash float to the limits of £30.00 for Office and £50.00 for Workshops for the purpose of defraying operational and other expenses. Vouchers for payments made from petty cash shall be kept to substantiate the payment.

(ii). Income received must not be paid into the petty cash float but must be separately banked, as provided elsewhere in these regulations.

(iii). Payments to maintain the petty cash float shall be shown separately on the schedule of the payment of money presented to the P & R Committee.

8. PAYMENTS OF SALARIES AND WAGES

a. The payment of salaries and wages shall be made by the RFO from the wages and salaries budget, in accordance with the payroll records, by means of BACS transfer.

b. All time sheets shall be certified as to accuracy by, or on behalf, of the Clerk.

c. The RFO to ensure sufficient funds are held in the current account to fund the payroll.

d. A quarterly statement will be presented to the Stagg & Salaries Committee identifying payroll costs compared with the budgeted figure.

9. LOANS AND INVESTMENTS

a. All loans and investments shall be negotiated by the RFO in the name of the council, and shall be for a set period of time in accordance with council policy. Changes to loans and investments should be reported to the P & R Committee at the earliest opportunity.

b. All investments of money under the control of the council shall be in the name of the council.

c. All borrowings shall be effected in the name of the council.

d. All investment certificates and other documents relating thereto shall be retained in the custody of the RFO.

10. INCOME

a. The collection of all sums due to the council shall be the responsibility of, and under the supervision of, the RFO.

b. Particulars of all charges to be made for work done, services rendered or goods supplied shall be notified to the RFO and the RFO shall be ultimately responsible for the collection of all accounts due to the council.

c. The council will review all fees and charges annually, following a report to the Clerk.

d. Any bad debts shall be reported to the P & R Committee.

e. All sums received on behalf of the council shall be paid to the RFO for banking. In all cases all receipts shall be deposited with the council’s bankers at a period not exceeding seven days.

e. A reference to the related debt, or otherwise, indicating the origin of each cheque, shall be cross-referred to the receipt.

f. Every transfer of official money from one member of staff to another shall be signed for by the receiving officer.

g. Personal cheques shall not be cashed.

11. ORDERS FOR WORK, GOODS AND SERVICES

a. An official order of letter shall be issued, by the RFO, for all work, goods and services unless a formal contract is to be prepared or an official order would be inappropriate e.g. petty cash purchases. Copies of orders issued shall be maintained on the appropriate file(s).

b. All officers are responsible for obtaining value for money at all times. An officer issuing an official order is to ensure as far as reasonable and practicable that the best available terms are obtained in respect of each transaction. If sound and acceptable reasons are first submitted to, and accepted by, council, it is not mandatory to accept the lowest quotation.

12. CONTRACTS

Procedures as to the contracts are laid down as follows:-

a. Where it is intended to enter into a contract for the supply of goods and services, the following guidelines for tender action will be:

(i). Contracts costed at £2,500 or less, the Council may act as it wishes taking particular notice of the requirement for any specialist service where it may not be possible to obtain more than one quotation.

(ii). Contracts costed at £2,501 to £5,000 will require at least 2 tenders.

(iii). Contracts costed at £5,001 to £10,000 will require at least 3 tenders.

(iv). For contracts in excess of £10,000, the services of an independent surveyor will be engaged.

b. If no tenders are received or if all the tenders are identical the Council may make such arrangements for procuring the goods or materials or executing the works as thought fit.

c. For individual and specialised services, independent rulings may apply and these rulings will be set by resolution.

13. PAYMENTS UNDER CONTRACTS FOR BUILDING OR OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKS

a. Payments on account of the contract sum shall be made within the time specified in the contract be the RFO upon authorised certificates of the architect or other consultants engaged to supervise the contract.

b. Where contracts provide for payment by instalments the RFO shall maintain a record of all such payments. In any case when it is estimated that the total cost of work carried out under a contract, excluding fluctuation clauses, will exceed the contract sum by 5% or more a report shall be submitted to Council.

c. Any variation to a contract or addition to or omission from a contract must be approved by the clerk in writing, the appropriate committee and Full Council being informed where the final cost is likely to exceed the financial provision.

14. STORES AND EQUIPMENT

a. The officer in charge of each section shall be responsible for the care and custody of stores and equipment in that section.

b. Delivery notes must be obtained in respect of all goods Received into store and goods must be checked as regard quality at the time delivered is made.

c. Stocks shall generally be maintained at the minimum levels consistent with operational requirements.

15. PROPERTIES AND ESTATES

a. The Clerk shall make appropriate arrangements for the custody of all title deeds of properties owned by the council. The RFO shall ensure a record is maintained of all properties owned by the council, recording the location, extent, plan, reference, purchase details, nature of the interest, tenancies granted, rents payable and purpose for which held in accordance with regulation 4(3)(b) of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.

b. No property shall be sold, leased or otherwise disposed of without the authority of the council, save where the estimated value of any one item does not exceed £250.00.

16. INSURANCE

a. The RFO shall effect all insurances and negotiate all claims on the Council’s Insurers.

b. The RFO shall give prompt notification of all new risks, properties or vehicles which require to be insured and of any alterations affecting existing insurances.

c. The RFO shall keep a record of all insurances affected by the council and the properties and risks covered thereby and annually review it.

d. The RFO shall be notified of any loss, liability or damage or of any event likely to lead to a claim.

e. All appropriate employees of the council shall be included in a suitable fidelity guarantee insurance.

17. REVISION OF FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

It shall be the duty of the P & R Committee to review the Financial Regulations of the Council annually, and record as such in a formal Minute, and to make such recommendations to the council as the committee considers are required.

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