Windsor council unanimously votes to hire auditor general from PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Windsor city council is going to hire an auditor general.
After hours of delegations and debate, council voted unanimously on Monday night to create an independent auditor general in a fully outsourced office, appointing PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partner, Chris O’Connor, as the new AG.
“This provides continuity and stability and utilizes a professional accounting firm that has been doing a good job of what was asked of it,” said Ward 10 coun. Jim Morrison, who initially asked the council question that got the ball rolling on the debate this term. He also tabled the motion that was passed Monday night.
“Although there is always an expectations gap, we can show that the City of Windsor is very transparent and accountable,” Morrison said.
The motion calls for a five-year contract renewal with PwC with an early termination clause (on 120 days’ notice) should the city not be satisfied with the services.
The last time Windsor hired an auditor general, it didn't last long. The position was eliminated in 2012 and the function was outsourced to PriceWaterhouseCoopers in April of 2013.
Only four of 444 municipalities in Ontario have hired an AG since the Municipal Act allowed the measure.
But proponents pushing for an auditor general say there's one power a municipal auditor brings to the table that: the power to examine individuals, under oath.
Delegates urged council to move ahead with hiring an auditor general Monday night, in the name of transparency and accountability.
“I sincerely hope you realize just how much value the right decision will have in restoring public faith in you,” said Tom Dean, who was in favour of hiring an auditor general.
“Even just for a short period of time, for just a few years, to help the citizens of Windsor to regain our trust in council and the administration that all of our best interests are being followed,” added Krista Glovasky-Ridsdale, a resident of ward 9.
“We have plenty of money for cops who police the poor, but we can’t afford an AG, the one cop who polices the powerful and saves taxpayers millions in waste,” said Martin Ouellette at the end of a passionate plea for an AG. “We demand fiscal responsibility and law and order from city hall.”
Even with council’s unanimous vote – one of the Windsor citizens who campaigned publicly for it during the election campaign doesn’t believe the chosen model will suit the stated goals of instituting an auditor.
“The thing about it is, do we really have an independent auditor general who’s going to make his own work plans, decide what’s to be looked at?” asked Howard Weeks. “Anybody who asked that question would really need to have doubts.”
“The who purpose of this exercise was to gain public confidence in the workings of city council and the municipality and I don’t think what they’ve come up with tonight will do that,” he said.