Premier Christy Clark’s announcement that a municipal auditor-general will be appointed is good news for taxpayers, and it could be helpful to municipalities as well, should they choose to adopt a conciliatory approach.
When Clark suggested this new office, many mayors and councillors condemned it, stating that their expenditures were already audited. This is disingenuous.
A year-end audit by an accounting firm is far different from specific performance audits of specific programs. Year-end audits pronounce judgment on general financial management, and rarely single out specific programs. On rare occasions, auditors will include a note about a specific program that raises some questions, but it is not part of their job to follow up.
A municipal auditor-general should be able to follow up on some of those types of “flagged” issues, as well as issues that are raised by taxpayers. Some of these may revolve around specific programs, particularly ones where accountability is less than transparent.
Both provincial and federal auditors-general have performed many such valuable services, and the small amount it costs to run their offices has been more than justified by the savings they have identified. It can be safely said that they are one of the very few branches of government with a mandate to try and save money for taxpayers.
If municipalities accept the reports and advice from the new auditor-general, it could go a long way towards improving their financial management. It will also help them to be more accountable to taxpayers.
— Langley Times