Taxpayer money hemorrhaging – May 9, 2016

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria wants the Office of the Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG) to conduct a performance audit immediately on the Capital Regional District to look into the wastewater treatment facility debacle.

In 2012 the AGLG was created to assist local governments in improving their operations, to advise and make recommendations to local governments to help them deliver services more efficiently, effectively and economically.

“The sewage project has hemorrhaged an estimated $70-million in tax dollars to date,” says Chairperson Stan Bartlett, “and despite years of best efforts the CRD is no closer to getting its sewage together.”

“The governance model of the CRD is fundamentally dysfunctional and simply not working, as evidenced by the handling of the sewage treatment issue.”

Last week we had the spectacle of the Esquimalt council voting against a McLoughlin Point-only plant option, and the mayor and chairperson of the CRD Barb Desjardins essentially writing a letter to herself about the decision.

“The voter can no longer distinguish between legitimate local self-interest, destructive to the broader policy debate required to move forward on the sewage issue, or a more deeply cynical conflict of interest at the highest level,” says Bartlett.

A few weeks ago PPP Canada, one of three federal sources of funding for the project, gave it a six-month extension on top of the 12-month deadline extension under which it was already operating.

A performance audit of the operations of the CRD would provide them with objective information and relevant advice that will assist them in their accountability to their communities for the stewardship of public assets and the achievement of value for money in the operations.

According to the AGLG, one of its themes is to focus on fiscal and sustainability planning, capacity and internal operations, and to maintain flexibility “to respond to issues that may emerge in the complex and ever changing world of local government.”

It is up to local governments to decide whether – and how – to act on any recommendations from a so-called ‘value for money’ audit. But, the ultimate decision on any audit lies with the voters in the 13 jurisdictions and three electoral areas that make up the CRD.

Auditor General for Local Government,