So why are we discussing a municipal auditor general? Wasn't the introduction of the Community Charter in 2004 designed to balance greater municipal autonomy with greater municipal accountability? Have we been sold another bill-of-goods?
Part 4, Division 5 of the Community Charter lays out a requirement for municipalities to produce an annual municipal report by June 30. Section 98 of the Community Charter requires that certain information must be included in the report (e.g., audited financial statements, objectives, measures and a progress report) for public review.
When reporting these requirements in relation to annual progress to the public, municipal councils are supposed to keep the following points in mind: focus on results, highlighting the value of the service; provide meaningful, clear and understandable, information; include comments explaining the numbers; be concise and comments written in plain language; and keep comments simple to prevent operational detail obscuring the real story/transparency.
An effective progress reporting system gives a local government the opportunity to set expectations, targets and objectives for its operations and services. These objectives should be meaningful to the community and something the municipality can actually influence or change.
The efficiency and effectiveness of a particular service or program can be evaluated based on metrics. Measures may be expressed as raw numbers, data or percentages.
Efficiency measures refer to the amount of resources used to produce a service and is usually expressed as unit costs - for instance, the operating costs per tonne of garbage recycled.
Effectiveness measures refer to the extent to which a service or program is achieving its intended result. Percentages and ratios are often used to express effectiveness measures - e.g., the number of water main breaks per 100 km of water distribution pipe in a year.
If we need to be discussing a municipal auditor general, what message is being sent to the public about the performance of municipal governments since the introduction of the Community Charter seven short years ago?
Is there an insinuation that the public is at fault, having failed to adequately review the reports prepared by municipalities as required by the Community Charter?
So, again, with this provincial government-imposed framework, why are we discussing a municipal auditor general? Is this an admission that the Community Charter is yet another government boondoggle, like the latest version of TransLink? ?Perhaps we should really be discussing the effectiveness of the Community Charter?
Taxpayers need to hear municipal incumbents vigourously defend their performance with specific details of the outcomes that demonstrate value-for-money. Hopefully we'll get lots of answers from candidates during the upcoming civic election campaigns.
John Grasty, Port Moody