A couple of weeks ago the current Provincial Government released the budget figures showing a multibillion dollar variance between what is and what was stated by the previous Liberal government.
It is not very shocking as the Provincial Auditor General had been saying for a couple of years now that this was the case. Having an Auditor General makes sense… but here at the municipal level, we do not have one. The Auditor General is a watch dog, intended to highlight when things are not done properly in the technical sense. The following of the rules, so to speak.
Back as far as 2001 the Province recommended that municipalities adopt certain transparency tools like an Auditor General. Many of them did, but not Sault Ste. Marie. As part of the Association of Ratepayers here in the Sault I tried diligently to get the voluntary adoption of these recommendations, but Mayor and council would have no part of it. A couple of councillors were sympathetic but 2 votes out of 10 or 12 does not carry motions, so it never progressed.
If the current Mayor had shown proper leadership and any initiative this would have become a major goal. Instead is was shunted to the side and basically never even talked about. Ignore it and it will go away seems to be standard policy at council under Mayor Provenzano toward most of the city’s pressing issues. The Association of Ratepayers then did what we had to in the face of unresponsive local governance, we took it to the next level.
By lobbying the Province we were able to get the Municipal Act updated, yes you did hear that correctly. Ordinary, everyday people like myself lobbied for change and got legislation improved. It can be done, should be done a lot more, and if I get elected Mayor will be done a lot more. The latest version of the Municipal Act makes it Mandatory for municipalities to have, among other things, an Auditor General. Mr. Provenzano still dragged his heals and left this until the 11th hour, it will have to be dealt with by the spring of 2019 though as that is as much time as the Province has allowed.
Just like at the Provincial level, we should have transparency tools in place. I have also called for and will if elected press for, a comprehensive line by line audit of the municipal budget so that we here in the Sault can also know exactly where we stand financially. This is necessary so we can begin improving on tax spending. Putting money where it is needed most is where your public input says it is needed most, not where the current Mayor and Council think it is required. As Mayor, Ted Johnston will not dictate to you, I will represent you.