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Municipal auditor not needed, says mayor

Corrigan says establishing an auditor general's office would be a waste of money

Spending millions on establishing a municipal auditor general's office is a waste of money, according to Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.

It is redundant to create a new position when overseeing municipal spending could be covered by the inspector of municipalities, or by expanding the B.C. auditor general's role, he said in a phone interview Monday.

Municipal governments are already required to run budgets without a deficit, and none have gone bankrupt or gone into deficit in B.C., he said.

"There's no problem that's been identified," Corrigan said. "It is simply the premier trying to gain some cheap political points by pointing a finger at the municipalities and saying they aren't well run.

"Exactly the opposite is true," he added.

It is an attempt to turn attention from the financial woes of the province, according to Corrigan.

"They're trying to divert attention from B.C. Hydro and B.C. Ferries," he said.

It is like a misbehaving child pointing to another child and saying, "He did it," Corrigan added.

It is an unnecessary expense during a financially difficult time for the province, he said.

"How much money is going to be spent stupidly?" Corrigan asked.

The cost of running the office would likely be passed on to municipalities, he pointed out.

The City of Burnaby received a letter from the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Ida Chong, requesting feedback on establishing the municipal auditor general office.

"The primary benefit of an office of the municipal auditor general is increased assurance that taxpayers are getting valuefor-money from their local governmentsjust as they have that assurance through the Office of Auditor General's review of provincial finances," the letter stated. "This supports the public interest, provides certainty and predictability to strengthen investor confidence in British Columbia, as well as supporting local governments in their budgeting processes."

Chong included a survey, and asked that it be returned to her office by Sept. 9, in time for the Union of British Columbia Municipalities' (UBCM) annual convention at the end of September.

"Ida Chong is doing what Christy Clark wants her to do," Corrigan said regarding the letter. "It's not an idea that is coming from the minister or the municipalities."

The UBCM is concerned about the speed with which the plan is being implemented and is holding a special session at the convention in the hopes of convincing the province to slow down and assess the plan.

It is unclear what the province hopes to achieve with the office, as a specific problem with municipal spending hasn't been mentioned, UBCM president Barbara Steele told The Vancouver Sun.

"I think the UBCM is calling it right," said Corrigan.