Improved Transparency and Financial Oversight
One of the largest causes of excessive growth in expenses is the propensity for budget managers to pad their operating budgets. We discussed a flagrant example of this in the Art Centre’s 2022 budget where they literally told us where they were hiding extra funds when Council approved their request to do a $30,000 study. To end this practice each member of council needs to meticulously discharge their responsibility for financial oversight by asking those difficult questions that may be perceived by the presenter as being overly critical. As well the city needs to stop using compound line items such as “Legal and Contracts” since these make it much easier to hide funds.
In regard to financial oversight, we saw in figure 16 that the Art Gallery’s burden on taxpayers was allowed to grow by 77.3% over the last five years. In two consecutive years the Art Gallery net expenses grew by over 20%. The analysis of the Art Gallery’s operations was somewhat uncertain since this business unit only shows up in the audited financials as a component of the Recreation and Cultural Services line item. Each of these business units, the Bayshore Community Centre, the Recreation Centre, the Library and the Art Gallery, need to be individually stated in the Audit Financial Statements. By doing so, the city would improve the transparency of city operations and at the same time give taxpayers a better understanding of how their tax dollars are being spent.