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Municipal auditor general law coming this fall, despite UBCM concerns: Chong

The provincial government will bring in legislation this fall to create a municipal auditor general's office, despite concerns raised at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention, said Ida Chong, the community, sport and cultural development minister.

"I know there are concerns because it is a new change for local governments, they've never had an auditor general," said Chong today following a UBCM session on the proposal. "At the end of the day I know when they see there are benefits to this, the municipal governments will embrace the idea, but there will still be some challenges."

The proposal was one of Premier Christy Clark's campaign promises when she was running for the leadership of the B.C.

Chong said she thought municipal governments would welcome an auditor general to help make sure they spend money efficiently and economically. "It's not another level of bureaucracy. It should be treated as a benefit, a tool, a resource for local governments."

"I think the devil's going to be in the detail on this," said Greg Moore, Mayor of Port Coquitlam and Metro Vancouver's representative on the UBCM executive. "In the governance model, what it's going to look like, how it's going to be implemented and how local government's going to be at the table for those discussions."

Municipalities are always looking for ways to get value for money and deliver services better for their residents, he said. "We do that already." It's better that be done by elected people than an unelected official in Victoria, he said.

"I think it's a foolish waste of money," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who spoke against the proposal during a plenary session at the convention. "Municipalities are the most effective, most transparent of governments. We already have an annual audit, we're required to have a balanced budget, most of us have internal auditing systems."

Delegates are to debate a motion Thursday on a UBCM position paper on the proposal. Moore said there may be motions from the floor to strengthen the motion and oppose or restrict the government's proposal.

"It could get very interesting," Moore said. "Listening to the room here, I think we'll have a lot of people who come out and speak against it."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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