Community

Community

Cities set to grill minister over planned auditor

UBCM convention to mull civic spending watchdog

The province’s plan to create a civic spending watchdog that might find efficiencies and uncover waste will be a hot topic at this fall’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention.

UBCM president Barbara Steele denies mayors and councillors are fearful of the government’s intent to appoint a municipal auditor-general, but says they have plenty of questions.

“There doesn’t seem to be a local government opposed to somebody coming in and checking out the books, checking the spending and even checking for best practices,” Steele said.

“The concern is we don’t know what the auditor-general is supposed to do or what’s broken. We don’t know what they’re looking to fix.”

Some civic leaders suspect the audits could limit their autonomy or constrain their ability to pursue different approaches or policies.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong has said civic performance audits wouldn’t overrule local governments but would highlight areas communities could save money.

She also indicated they could look at property tax rates – industry and business have long demanded a mechanism to cap and perhaps reduce what they pay.

The municipal auditor-general initiative was a promise of Premier Christy Clark when she ran for the B.C. Liberal leadership.

The issue will be the topic of a workshop with Chong at the UBCM convention at the end of September.

But Steele and others don’t see how there’s much time for the province to meaningfully consult cities if Victoria aims to create the new office during an expected sitting of the Legislature in October.

Cities are already subject to balanced budget legislation that bans deficits and pay for their own auditors that report each year.

That’s raised concern that the effort might create duplication.

Cities already work together closely – often coordinated through UBCM – to compare best practices and share them, Steele added.

She noted Chong has now indicated the costs of the auditor may be downloaded onto cities.

“At no time had we been told that we would bear the cost of this,” she said. “So you can bet that’s going to be a concern.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

It’s crucial to follow provincial health guideliens to stop further spread of the virus, according to the Physicans of Golden. (File photo)
Positive COVID cases confirmed in Golden

The exposure occured at the Golden arena through one of the hockey cohorts.

After nearly 20 years, the Golden and Area A Community Forestry Team is trying to bring a community forest to the Golden area. (File photo)
Bringing a community forest to Golden

There’s been a desire to bring a community forest to the area for over a decade

Concerns over the water in Nicholson have been raised since 2005. Residents continue to reject solutions from the CSRD. (Cranbrook Townsman file)
Nicholson residents reject community water system

The results of the one-year water monitoring program have been released.

Grizzly.
Morning Start: Humans might be able to hibernate like bears

Your morning start for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

The Animal Food Bank is asking for donations as the pandemic continues and the holidays approach. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Okanagan Animal Food Bank in need of donations as pandemic continues

The Animal Food Bank provides food for any domestic pet in need

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

There are numerous ways the municipality can use the money, granted by the province. Black Press file photo.
Town of Princeton gets $1 million in COVID relief

Funds to offset affects of pandemic on municipal revenues and operations

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Representatives of Vernon Rotary Clubs, starting left: Angela Yablonski (Vernon Rotary), Dustin Stadnyk (Kalamalka Rotary), and Michael Wardlow (Silver Star Rotary) present the proceeds from fall fundraising to Anna Dawyd and Laurie Postill (Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail) to help create the Northern Gateway to Okanagan Rail Trail. (Contributed)
Rail Trail boosted by North Okanagan Rotary Clubs

More than $7,400 raised to develop gateway at Kilometre Zero

A colourful inflatable igloo is a new addition to Vernon Winter Carnival 2021, if the multi-day event can proceed amid health regulations. (Vernon Winter Carnival photo)
Vernon Winter Carnival still hoping to light up 2021 amid COVID-19

Event gets support from city in attempts to continue while navigating health regulations

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

McDonald’s at 155 Hollywood Road N in Kelowna. (Contributed)
Kelowna McDonald’s reopens after closure due to COVID-19 exposure

The restaurant shut down on Monday for a thorough cleaning and sanitization after a staff member tested positive for the virus

Most Read