Policing is one of the biggest costs in municipal budgets and it's the focus of audits of six B.C. cities promised by the Auditor General for Local Government.

Acting municipal auditor named to replace Ruta

Police cost probe of Surrey and five other cities among delayed AGLG audits

An acting Auditor General for Local Government has been named, allowing work to continue on municipal audits that had been in progress, including probes of how Surrey and New Westminster manage policing costs.

Arn van Iersel, a former B.C. comptroller general and acting auditor general, takes over for Basia Ruta, who was fired by the province last week after she tried to block a review of her office’s performance.

“I am confident that this appointment will bring stability to the office and provide strong leadership during the transition period,” said Coralee Oakes, the minister responsible.

A review of the AGLG office led by Chris Trumpy is underway and expected to lead to further reforms in the AGLG function.

The AGLG’s website indicates an audit of Sechelt’s capital procurement is next up for release in April.

Police management audits were also previously announced for Merritt, Port Alberni, Victoria and Williams Lake, while several other cities or regional districts are the subject of audits of capital procurement or value for money in operational procurement.

AGLG officials won’t say how advanced the Surrey policing audit is.

But Surrey city officials say there have been 20 to 25 meetings since June of 2013 between the AGLG and senior city staff, the former mayor and councillors.

The Surrey audit was originally scheduled for completion in January of 2014, with a March 2014 publication date.

City officials last met with the AGLG’s office in February and expected to get a sense of when the audit would be finished at a follow up meeting that was scheduled for last Friday, but cancelled after Ruta’s firing.

Ruta had set an ambitious target of 18 audits in the first year but became embroiled in discord with her staff and her governing audit council. The office located in Surrey has so far released just three reports.

The office was created by the premier to seek savings at the local government level by comparing the performance and practices of various municipalities.

Municipal leaders had opposed the idea, predicting it would be a wasteful extra layer of bureaucracy that might interfere with local decision making.

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