Full transparency and accountability – that’s what Burnaby council wants with the renewal of the gas tax agreement coming up with the federal government.
The gas tax agreement between the province and the federal government is up for renewal in 2014, and the Union of B.C. Municipalities circulated a survey to municipalities in preparation for the upcoming negotiations, which would lead to another 10-year agreement.
Burnaby city staffers responded to the survey in a report, recommending more transparency and better governance moving forward to make gas tax funds more easily available to local municipalities.
Coun. Colleen Jordan said that very little of the $700 million that was in the bank over the last 10 years stayed in the Lower Mainland.
“It was not transparent in how this money was segmented, how it was distributed around the province,” she said at the Oct. 21 meeting. “I think this report outlines that there should be a much better job done.”
Jordan said she also agreed with the staff recommendation that calls for half of the gas tax funds to be made available for regional projects.
The administrative costs the union claimed in 2011 was $3.2 million, but Burnaby city staffers say the costs were not tracked.
Mayor Derek Corrigan said over the last 10 years, the city had a hard time finding out the process and criteria used to make decisions about the gas tax funds.
“In my view, to be candid, a lot of it looked like politics,” he added. “A lot of it looked like there was influence from the provincial and federal government.”
In response to the survey, Burnaby council is asking for full transparency and accountability within the governance model, which has two governance committees to administer the terms of the agreement in B.C. It also wants to track the administrative costs for the Metro Vancouver area.
“The existing management/governance structure of the (agreement) includes no elected officials, with the exception of a UBCM appointee,” planning director Lou Pelletier said in a report, noting the appointee, Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom, is part of the partnership committee. “The (management committee) includes no elected officials and, as such, no direct electoral accountability for decisions made regarding eligible and approved projects.”
Council is also asking for segmentation of the Innovation Fund to ensure Metro Vancouver receives its fair share and that the Metro Vancouver Board gets established as the responsible authority for management and administration of the agreement.
The gas tax funds are collected by the federal government, which then returns some of those funds back to each province.
The province then distributes back to cities to meet infrastructure requirements.
Much of the gas tax money is used to fund TransLink.
© Copyright 2013