Halifax’s Auditor General drops 2024 audit plan | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Halifax’s Auditor General drops 2024 audit plan

New CAO is fixing her department

The Audit and Finance Standing Committee met on Wednesday April, 17, and Halifax’s new Auditor General Andrew Atherton told councillors what his team’s priorities are for the coming year.

For the capital budget audit, Atherton said that the capital budget is getting bigger year over year, and it also seems like the amount of work we can accomplish is never actually what we budget for in the capital budget process. For the other capital piece, the maintenance of existing municipal capital buildings, he wants to try and figure out how much deferred maintenance is actually costing us. Since councillors normally defer maintenance to save money, if the AG finds (as he is likely to do) that deferring costs us more money in the long term than it saves in the short term, then we will learn that our councillors have made some horrendous mistakes that need correcting. But if we didn’t have money to fix things in the first place, will we be able to fix them now that corporate greed and inflation have made everything more expensive? This will be a very interesting audit when it comes back.

When talking about the snow clearing audit, councillor Paul Russell asked Atherton to try and factor in currently un-costed externalities. As The Coast’s Martin Bauman reported earlier this month, road salt is damaging our lakes, and Russell thinks the cost of that damage should be incorporated into the cost of snow clearing, if possible, when auditing the city’s snow clearing efficacy.

Other highlights from Atherton’s presentation included the fact that even though most of the AG’s recommendations are accepted by the municipality, actually implementing these recommendations are lacking with just over half, 51%, being incomplete. Chief Administrative Officer Cathie O’Toole told councillors that some of that low number is due to new—yet to be actioned—reports, which would have a completion rate of 0% which would in turn drop the average.

More concerningly, she also told council that one of the big reasons the city wasn’t taking action on the AG’s recommendations was because even though the CAO’s office used to track how the various business units were implementing the AG’s recommendations, the city hasn’t done that for about four years. She discovered this deficiency in her first month on the job, and after being delayed a bit by the fires and floods of last summer, her office has once again started tracking municipal departments’ progress on implementing AG recommendations.

This committee also got a report on our investments (they’re doing okay) and sent the information along to council.

Matt Stickland

Matt spent 10 years in the Navy where he deployed to Libya with HMCS Charlottetown and then became a submariner until ‘retiring’ in 2018. In 2019 he completed his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of King’s College. Matt is an almost award winning opinion writer.
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The MacKay Bridge and Barrington Street are taking loooong construction vacations this summer, making driving to and through the city harder. Will your commute be OK?