Auditor General? 2 Changes I’d rather see

I may be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me. For those who follow city hall, I invite you to read the agenda at this link, in particular item 7.1 on the Audit agenda: A report from Harry Schlange recommending that we do not hire an Auditor General.

http://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/meetings-agendas/Audit%20Committee/20171120au_Agenda.pdf

 

Do we actually need an external Auditor General?

Are they good for a city?

Are they bad for a city?

Do they accomplish anything?

Are they money well spent?

Never shy to confess, I admit: I haven’t the foggiest idea.

Dr. Google suggests they an Auditor General is definitely a “Sunshine List” calibre employee. And that is if you just hire the one person, like McCarter and D’eye, as opposed to an “Office of the Auditor General” type of set up like the Federal and Provincial Governments employ. Now, the report to the Audit Committee suggests that annual costs would be comparable to our internal department, but there would be transition costs and possible overage costs due to external administrative needs.  Spending more money overall though.

Certainly, Auditor General McCarter never found the OPR payment scheme, and despite some process recommendations, didn’t find any other smoking guns. And Auditor General Rust D’Eye, called in specifically to investigate the Southwest Quadrant transaction, was nothing more than an elaborate white washing of the whole ordeal. Was any of it money well spent?

So no, I don’t know if an External Auditor would do us any good. But I do know this: it was only a year ago that the Brampton Guardian revealed just how much the Mayor’s Office costs this city.  In expanding her office staff to six (6), the cost of her office for 2017 is projected in the $846,000 range. Councillor Sprovieri asked for job descriptions of her staffers a year ago: did we ever get those by the way? I think instead of adding to our ever-growing payroll, we need to batten down the proverbial hatches, streamline jobs and right size our city’s administration, not grow it.   After all, why does the Mayor have a “Special Advisor”? Is that person working for the residents within the Mayor’s office? Or are they just working for the Mayor at the expense of residents?  So that is change #1:  Bring the Mayor’s staff back down in number.

Change #2 {because I don’t want to come across as someone who just picks on the mayor} pertains to spending disclosure for all councillors. Having expenses published on the city website is great, and I applaud that change. But, I think it’s fair to point out that there is a huge reporting gap in the publication of council expenses. In particular, all that currently gets listed is money spent from the City budget; but what about from the Region of Peel budget? That money gets collected on the same tax bill at my house, how about yours? So, I think its high time the office budgets and spending done through the Region of Peel budget gets published alongside the money spent at the City level for our Regional Councillors.

And moreover, the published list of expenses incurred should also henceforth include all “In Kind” spending. What is In Kind spending? For instance, there was a recent Community BBQ in my ward, which was advertised on Region of Peel Mobile Sign Boards along Steeles Avenue.  That type of In Kind resource use is advertising, but it won’t show up on the City’s spending disclosures because a) it was done at the Regional level and b) it wasn’t done with a cheque to a 3rd party, but was done In Kind, by using Region of Peel resources.  It still costs us, the taxpayers, money though, doesn’t it?

So I say again, if council wants to maintain their credibility in being “Accountable and Transparent” they should assure the electorate that they are in fact committed to disclosure, transparency and accountability by committing to these two small, and very easy to implement, changes.

 

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