Municipal Auditor in the works?

Some time ago Ww sent an email to the Minister of Service NS and Municipal Affairs which read as follows:

Sir,
Do we taxpayers need to wait until our towns are in default before there is monitoring of responsibility? Can a Council just resign and wash their hands of all fault? Where is the accountability? We need a municipal auditor to catch fiscal flaws before towns fail.
From a recent article in the Financial Post:
Expenditure growth has run amok in recent years at the municipal level. A focus on spending restraint is long overdue.

We were a little surprised but pleased to get a response from John MacDonell which we copy below to share with our readers.

Thank you for your email of June 1, 2011 regarding municipal councils and the need for a Municipal Auditor.

I want to assure you that Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations does receive and review audited financial statements from municipalities. We work continuously with all 55 municipalities across the Province to discuss their financial positions and the challenges they face. If they are struggling, we are here to help.

The Province is also supporting the work of the Towns Task Force, a joint task force between the Province and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities that is investigating the challenges facing towns across Nova Scotia. We have provided $100,000 toward this work, and I look forward to the creative solutions the Task Force will propose.

The resignation of Bridgetown Council was the first in Nova Scotia history that such action has been taken by a Municipality. As you know, Bridgetown faced unique circumstances, including a fraud investigation involving Town finances.

Your email calls for the creation of a Municipal Auditor General position, which has been a matter of discussion between the Province and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. I believe that a Municipal Auditor General is a key component to the transparency and accountability that citizens expect of all levels of government. We are discussing the best ways to deliver that service effectively, at a reasonable cost to municipal taxpayers, with the UNSM, and I hope those discussions will prove fruitful.

I hope this response has been helpful. Thank you for your interest in municipal government in Nova Scotia.

Yours truly,

Original Signed By

John MacDonell

Minister, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations

We certainly hope those discussions with the UNSM bear fruit, real action, not just more talk.

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