Editorial: Any solutions in municipal resolutions?

Resolutions are too often long on rhetoric and short on resolve.

So the annual high tide of proposed/forwarded/tabled resolutions that accompanied the recent Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Victoria is more wish list than to-do list.

It does, however, provide a window into business trends and aspirations down at your local city hall.

This year, several are worth noting. For example, it’s encouraging, as the BC Chamber of Commerce noted, that the UBCM proposed a resolution to recognize the existence of and to co-operate with the province’s Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG). Co-operation on that front has not always been high on municipal priority lists. Since the provincial government introduced the Auditor General for Local Government Act in November 2011, municipal politicians have chafed at its implication that local government finances need senior government oversight. Most argued that it was unnecessary because city hall accounting books

already had enough public scrutiny.

But not all municipal books have enough oversight and not all deliver optimum returns on their investment of taxpayer dollars.

As pointed out in the 2015 BC Municipal Spending Watch, city hall spending has far outpaced population growth in B.C. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) publication noted, for example, that while B.C.’s population grew 11% from 2003 to 2013, municipal operating spending jumped 49%.

The added cost of that outsized outlay of municipal tax dollars for a B.C. family of four, according to CFIB estimates, was around $8,000.

So long-suffering property owners around the province will agree that an additional layer of financial oversight applied to municipal budgets and spending is not overkill.

Another resolution at the UBCM event called for local governments to get a share of any future federal or provincial tax revenue generated from marijuana sales and distribution.

That drug-induced windfall will need financial transparency from all three levels of government, not just at city hall.