I was disappointed that our mayor continues to oppose the new municipal auditor general as a waste of money. His notion that we don't need it because Burnaby has annual audits is disingenuous. Annual financial audits are valuable, but their scope covers whether there is accuracy in the financial reporting and evidence of fraud. It is possible for a government to waste money (yet still account for it properly), and this is why a performance audit or a value-for-money audit is so important and this is a role I hope the municipal AG will play.
Council members should stop relying on Maclean's labelling of Burnaby as the "best run city" from three years ago, using data even older than that. That report was primarily a statistical exercise using high-level financial data but it had merit because the concerns behind why the report was prepared are the very reasons why we need more oversight. Municipal leaders naturally do not want more oversight but municipal governments collectively assess billions of dollars in taxes and hold billions worth of assets, yet escape the scrutiny they should receive.
I feel Burnaby is well run and for that I give full credit to the staff and workers of the city, but considering my property taxes increased 15 per cent last year, I want more assurance that my ever-rising property tax dollars are not being wasted. More oversight of this level of government in the form of a municipal auditor general is definitely in the public interest.
Ironically, when Maclean's awarded Burnaby that award Mayor Corrigan was quoted as being a fan of benchmarking, which is another key role I can see the municipal AG playing so I encourage him to support the new position but given this council's tendency to rail against anything done by the current provincial government, I am not surprised by their opposition to it. For a change, it would be nice if good judgement would trump idealogy.
Lawrence Kumar, Burnaby
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