Our View: Oversight plan could work here

Last week’s announcement that the province would create a municipal auditor general department is good news for taxpayers around the province.

Any move to make our public bodies more accountable, even at the civic level, is a way to help ensure that they follow a closer path to the private sector when it comes to keeping expenses in check.

Last week’s announcement that the province would create a municipal auditor general department is good news for taxpayers around the province.

Any move to make our public bodies more accountable, even at the civic level, is a way to help ensure that they follow a closer path to the private sector when it comes to keeping expenses in check.

Liberal cabinet minster and Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong said the oversight body would be good for small municipalities – those with 5,000 residents or less – that don’t have the resources to undertake such audits.

But there is a real opportunity for a municipal auditor general to inspect the spending habits in larger jurisdictions such as Saanich and Victoria, and even mid-sized municipalities such as Langford, Oak Bay and Esquimalt.

From constant increases in commercial and residential property tax by more than the rate of inflation and a shocking rise in six-figure administrator salaries to eyebrow-raising benefits given to union employees – emergency services personnel and otherwise – there are plenty of expenditures and decisions on which taxpayers would love to get an outside opinion.

Taking the work of the provincial auditor-general as an example, it’s clear such bodies have no legislative powers. What they do have, however, is the ability to make public any discrepancies or inappropriate expenditures, which ultimately fall on the shoulders of the politicians who gave them final approval.

The threat of having their actions publicly criticized will hopefully provide enough motivation to prompt our elected officials, as well as the employees who are guided by their decisions, to take a closer look at how they spend taxpayers’ money.

Navel-gazing is never a bad thing. And at a time when the public will be faced with helping pay for an LRT system, sewage treatment and a new Johnson Street bridge, the status quo just isn’t good enough.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read