Good governance needs transparency

Former Vernon councillor concerned about actions at city hall

I served on Vernon city council for 12 years and practiced as a chartered accountant for close to 50 years. I had extensive audit experience and consulting with municipalities.

I commenced asking for an accounting after the end of the 2006 fiscal year at the City of Vernon. The then-mayor requested that I pursue my questions with staff. After two years of incomplete answers, I requested that my questions be referred to the city auditors.

In June 2010, the matter was referred to the auditors and they were unable to get adequate responses from administration. New auditors were appointed in late 2011, but the original questions were still not satisfactorily answered.

The city failed to invoice in a timely manner (and in some cases, failed to invoice) for services rendered in amounts totalling more than $1 million.

This included failure to invoice Coldstream for $243,000 and staff stated the amounts were not recoverable under the sewer agreement. They ultimately recovered the funds but did not investigate whether other billings had been overlooked.

In addition, many mistakes were made in the sewer levy on taxpayers.

The present mayor maintains that he doesn’t have the time to look backwards.

Most people learn from past mistakes but he will not with such an attitude. No one has been held responsible for these mistakes and there has been no accountability.

Accordingly, there can be no assurance that other major losses will not occur and have to be absorbed by the taxpayers. It is no wonder that our taxation is higher than that of our neighbours.

It’s strange how these politicians maintain transparency and accountability at election time. With the present attitude of council, can we really expect major improvements from the core review? The mayor has already dismissed, without debate, the possibility of amalgamation.

Good governance is supported by five principles:

Accountability where the individuals taking responsibility for their decisions and actions, integrity by utilizing high levels of professionalism, leadership by setting the tone by way of expectations at the head of the organization, stewardship by looking after resources for the public, and transparency when decisions are open and the public has access to full accurate and clear information.

The mayor, council and administration have failed all of these principles of good governance.

 

Barry Beardsell

Vernon