Basia Ruta is the newly appointed Auditor General for Local Government

New auditor for cities sets up shop in Surrey

Basia Ruta's office will scrutinize civic spending

B.C.’s new Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG) says her first audits to probe spending in local cities will be underway by the end of April.

Basia Ruta started work this week in Surrey at the newly opened AGLG office in Guildford.

The Ontario chartered accountant and senior federal bureaucrat will lead performance audits of municipalities and regional districts and deliver non-binding recommendations to help improve local government efficiency and effectiveness.

“I think the mandate allows us to really provide some meaningful information,” Ruta said.

She hasn’t decided which communities she’ll scrutinize first.

Ruta said she intends to meet municipal reps, financial executives, chambers of commerce and other stakeholders before formulating a service plan and deciding on initial audits within the first 100 days.

“We can do horizontal audits that could impact many, many communities on a single  issue,” Ruta said.

“It doesn’t have to be just focused on one community.  So you can have broad-based issues, broad-based objectives that you go and pursue.”

Procurement procedures and policing costs are examples of topics where Ruta said she might examine multiple cities’ practices simultaneously.

“It isn’t possible for this office or any office to audit everything of interest,” she said, but added other potential topics include the sustainability of infrastructure, environmental issues and whether cities are making good use of revenue-generating tools.

The AGLG was created by the provincial government despite objections from some B.C. cities who feared it could turn into a witch hunt for waste that failed to take into account differing municipal priorities, and that might duplicate existing audits at their expense.

“We do not question policy,” Ruta said. “We wouldn’t be commenting on tax rates, for instance. We wouldn’t be commenting on collective agreement negotiation rates – that’s really a matter of policy.”

But she said audits could weigh in on whether the performance of a civic program or function is meeting its objectives or whether adoption of best practices might bring better value for money.

Business groups including the B.C. Chamber of Commerce pushed for the new watchdog.

Ruta was assistant deputy minister and chief financial officer with Environment Canada and previously worked for 10 years in the office of the federal Auditor General.

The AGLG’s website at www.aglg.ca also includes an area for citizens to suggest audit topics.

The local government auditor can serve up to two five-year terms.

Just Posted

New surcharge for Harrison boaters

Small boat launch surcharge to fund KHSAR

POLL: How should Harrison deal with goose poop?

Monday’s council meeting raised questions about the best way to handle waste around the beach

Sts’ailes First Nation to vote on land code

Land Code would remove nation from 34 sections of Indian Act

KPU campuses go smoke-free starting Jan. 21 – and that includes vaping

‘We didn’t make this decision lightly’ says prez of the Surrey-based institution

Trial begins for man charged with 2010 murder of Mandy Johnson

Langley single mom was fatally shot while in vehicle in Abbotsford

Find Your Fit tour comes to Agassiz

Gives students hands-on experience with career-planning tools

Toronto man charged in double homicide

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Carpet bowlers have been excluded from BC 55+ Games and Canada 55+ Games

Gold medal carpet bowling winners not able to defend their titles in 2018

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries’ enacts smoking ban

Fines and extra patrols not happening at this time as ban begins Monday

Police to provide update on unsolved 13-year-old B.C. girl’s murder

IHIT say no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Marrisa Shen’s death

Rural B.C. students score visit with Canadiens netminder Carey Price

Two students from the Caiboo Chilcotin can hardly wait to meet hometown hero Carey Price in Montreal.

VIDEO: Elk parade on Vancouver Island is awesome sight

They’re out in force for a morning stroll. Check out some of Youbou’s famous elk.

North Delta’s Colton Hasebe named BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s 2018 Champion Child

Colton takes the reins from 2107 Champion Child and Tsawwassen resident Taylin McGill

LIVE: B.C. announces anti-racism funding

Ravi Kahlon said money will go to B.C. Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) program

Most Read