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Audit council postings bring local overseer a step closer

Feb 05 2012

Plans to create a financial watchdog to oversee local government spending inched forward Saturday.

Premier Christy Clark promised late last year to create the Office of the Auditor General for Local Government, designed to conduct financial reviews on civic finances.

In anticipation of the new position, the provincial government wants to create a fivemember audit council that will review and monitor the new position. The positions were posted on the government's website Saturday.

"We are anxious to get going with our first audits, and need to be prepared to take action as soon as the legislation is in place," said Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong.

Clark is expected to create the local auditor general position this spring with the passing of the Auditor General for Local Government Act.

The office will be based in Surrey and is expected to have an annual budget of about $2.6 million.

The auditor will have oversight of performance and financial issues for most municipal, district and regional governments.

Audit council members will serve three-year terms and will be appointed by the provincial government.

The Islands Trust will be exempt from the auditor's purview at least for now. The Islands Trust has a unique mandate in law for land-use planning on hundreds of Gulf Islands.

Some politicians attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last September criticized the creation of a local government watchdog, but the new office was welcomed by a number of mayors in the capital region.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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