British Columbia's first office of the Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG) has opened its doors, announced Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Bill Bennett today with B.C.'s first AGLG Basia Ruta alongside.
Recommended by the five-member Audit Council that oversees the office and subsequently appointed by government, Ruta took up her position on Jan. 15. The AGLG will conduct performance audits of local government operations and provide recommendations regarding economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
The opening of the office fulfils a commitment made by Premier Christy Clark as part of her Families First agenda. It is also an example of how the government listens to British Columbians, as the idea was originally suggested by B.C. business groups to provide an additional level of accountability and transparency for taxpayers.
The first audits will begin by April 30. It will be up to the AGLG to choose what local government operations to focus on within the framework of the Auditor General for Local Government Act.
The AGLG will publish an annual service plan that will lay out the goals and objectives for the coming year and the following two years. The annual service plan will include the criteria used to determine the need for and priority of performance audits.
Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development -
"This office is going to make a difference for B.C. families by making sure local governments are maximizing taxpayers' hard-earned tax dollars. The bottom line is that it's about accountability to taxpayers. Basia Ruta is highly qualified and will be an asset for local governments. I look forward to the benefits Ms. Ruta's work will bring to local governments and taxpayers alike."
Basia Ruta, auditor general for local government -
"I'm excited to get started in this important and challenging position. I intend to make sure the AGLG is a valuable and objective resource for all of British Columbia's local governments, helping them provide the greatest possible value for every tax dollar they spend. Under my leadership, this office will be independent, accessible, fair and transparent as we carry out performance audits of local governments."
Laura Jones, executive vice-president, Canadian Federation of Independent Business -
"B.C.'s business owners are pleased the government has shown leadership by establishing an independent Office of the Auditor General for Local Government. Taxpayer accountability is always welcome. We are hopeful that municipalities will recognize the opportunity to provide British Columbians with greater transparency on how their tax dollars are spent and focus on providing the best value possible."
John Winter, CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce -
"Taxpayers and local governments will see real tangible benefits with the establishment of the Office of the Auditor General for Local Government. Taxpayers will see increased transparency and accountability on how their tax dollars are spent while local governments will have a resource to enhance their decision-making process through the sharing of best practices."
Peter Fassbender, mayor of Langley -
"As a mayor of a local community I look forward to working with the new Auditor General for Local Government as we find ways to validate and improve the efficiency of local government finances. I know local governments are doing a good job and this office will show their commitment to serve all taxpayers and citizens interests!"
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Office of the Auditor General for Local Government