Local government auditor problems confirmed

Survey of municipalities being audited by Premier Christy Clark's new office show it was unprepared for the task

Arn van Iersel was appointed this spring as acting Auditor General for Local Government.

The release of a spring survey of B.C. municipalities confirms the problems that led to the firing of B.C.’s first Auditor General for Local Government in March.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities surveyed the 17 local governments that had participated in former AGLG Basia Ruta’s reviews by March. All but one responded that AGLG staff and auditors lacked understanding of how local government operates in B.C.

One community with RCMP service said the AGLG was “not quite sure how to assess our situation” because the municipality had little discretion over the terms of its policing contract.

The survey also found that high turnover in Rutia’s office hampered its performance audits. That was one of the factors that led to Ruta being fired, after she refused to cooperate with a review of her office’s functions.

Former B.C. auditor general Arn van Iersel was appointed acting AGLG in April and is working with the UBCM on its recommendations, including training of audit staff.

Hired to execute an idea proposed by Premier Christy Clark in her 2012 bid for the B.C. Liberal Party leadership, Ruta set herself a target of 18 audits in the first year. Clashes with staff at her Surrey office and her supervising board began to emerge, and only one audit was completed in that time.