Auditor general discussed at council

Williams Lake city staff and council are looking forward to the implementation of auditor general.

Now that clear details about the municipal auditor general for local governments are being released Williams Lake city staff and council are looking forward to its implementation.

At Tuesday evening’s council meeting, council received a report from chief administrative officer Brian Carruthers and earlier that day had also heard specifics from the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong who was in the region on a two-day tour with three other ministers.

“When the announcement was made back in the fall there was a lot of speculation and concern among municipalities about what the auditor general for municipalities and the purpose and role of that position,” Carruthers said.

The auditor general will audit local governments with respect to value for money and will provide advice on achieving efficiencies, provide recommendations in the form of public reports, and issue recommended practices as a result of those reports.

“They will examine specific operations, but not the entirety of the operations. Obviously when you look at a municipality our size there is a lot to our services, so they would take a systematic approach with the audit,” Carruthers explained, adding it’s important to note they are not going to examine the merits of policy or suggest tax rates.

The cost for the program will be funded by the province, at no cost to municipalities. The office will be located in Surrey. An audit council is currently being formed that will be tasked with recruiting an auditor general.

Carruthers welcomes a third party audit and said he thinks the feedback provided will only help the city increase efficiencies.

“As the auditor general works through best practices the auditor general will be able to share them with municipalities,” he said.

Coun. Geoff Bourdon said he’s excited because he thinks the existence of an auditor general will take what’s learned from one municipality to the next.

“I think it will be a really good window for the province to see more closely what municipalities are challenged with. It won’t just help municipalities but will enable the province to look through the other side of the lens,” Bourdon said, adding the province will also see a return on its investment.

At the Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier that day, Chong said when the legislature resumes next Tuesday, the auditor general position will be debated, a debate she anticipates will be rigourous and robust. “I know it will be passed and at the end of the day we will have an important piece of legislation because it will be an extra tool and an extra resource that will help your local government do a better job at managing your tax dollars,” Chong said, adding it will provide extra support not duplicate existing audit procedures.