Local government watchdog finds support in Whistler 

AGLG will conduct "value-for-money" audits on local government

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In principle, Mayor-Elect Nancy Wilhelm-Morden likes the idea of a municipal watchdog looking over the books of local government.

But it's too early to tell what kind of an impact the new Office for the Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG) will have on Whistler's municipality.

"On a theoretical basis at least it's got my support," said Whistler's new mayor, who will be sworn into office on Dec. 6.

"There have been complaints in the province for the last couple of years in particular about municipal spending careening out of control. So I am sympathetic to the creation of the position. I, of course, want to see the details of the legislation. I haven't seen that."

On Thursday the province tabled the legislation to create the new office, along with the promise to pick up its tab. The office will be based out of Surrey.

It's already got a vote of support from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

"Both senior levels of government are subject to independent scrutiny regarding their use of taxpayer money," said chamber president Fiona Famulak. "Local government is the only taxing level of government that is not subject to this level of scrutiny, so the Auditor General for Local Government will ensure that municipalities are accountable and employing best practices in the interest of local residents and businesses."

The news comes on the heels of an annual report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses claiming B.C.'s municipal governments are increasing spending at a rate that is far higher than inflation or population growth.

Premier Christy Clark said the primary purpose of the AGLG would be to help local governments find efficiencies in spending and improve program effectiveness by providing neutral, non-binding advice.

"This office will support the goals of the Families First Agenda by strengthening local government accountability and ensuring B.C. families receive the best possible return on investment for their taxpayer dollars," said Clark.

The AGLG will make recommendations for improvements, not impose solutions. It will be up to local governments to decide what action to take on any of its recommendations.

Mayor-elect Wilhelm-Morden said what that actually means for Whistler is still unknown.

"I don't know how proactive that position will be given the several hundred towns and cities that they'll be looking at," she said

Among other things, the AGLG's core mandate is to:

• Conduct performance audits (also called "value-for-money" audits) that would investigate whether a service is being delivered as economically and as efficiently as possible.

• Provide recommendations to the audited local government in the form of public reports.

• Issue recommended practices.


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