There are not many issues where Vancouver Councillor Raymond Louie and I agree, but I think I may have stumbled upon one. Hallelujah.
Frances Bula reports that Louie and his Vision colleagues are considering setting aside some funding for a new Vancouver Office of the Auditor General. This is a very good move. That is, unless Vision puts restraints on what the auditor is allowed to review in any given year. Of course, much of that will depend upon the Auditor's mandate and annual budget.
City Hall sources indicate Vision is planning to allocate approximately $700K for a myriad of new programs and services. Those include new "green grants", child care and youth services, a mental health advocate and a raft of environmental projects.
If that's true, there certainly won't be a lot of money left over to fund the new Office of the Auditor General in Vancouver. In other words, you will have an Auditor General, with basically no funds to do his/her job.
When you consider that Vancouver is a one-billion dollar annual operation, it only makes sense that there is oversight on those tax dollars. Similar to provincial and federal governments, the auditor general can be an influential watchdog over city spending, as long as he/she remains free from political interference.
During the last term of government I raised the issue of an auditor general on numerous occasions without success. It was felt that the City had excellent staff and they didn't need someone leaning over their shoulder.
My view remains that an independent auditor would actually serve to validate how the public service does a good job at spending our tax dollars. The City's public servants should have nothing to fear.
I may not agree with Councillor Louie's lack of disclosure regarding who bankrolled his leadership campaign. Nor his recent decision to spend at least $2 million tax dollars to build a museum rather than a functional and architecturally important Firehall No.15 in East Vancouver.
However, when it comes to establishing a new Office of the Auditor General in Vancouver, he's on the right track.