I was very pleased to download and review the above mentioned report. It was very good.
Accurate financial reporting is the main concern for municipalities. My experience in reviewing financial statements and other local government reports across the country reflects more bad reporting than acceptable data.
This is not good for democracy.
I returned to Ottawa in mid 2005 after spending five years in Vancouver. The financial health of the City of Ottawa had changed so dramatically that I decided to look into the municipal operations. I have a banking and financial background and my experience in municipalities was limited to advancing short and long term loans (as a bank manager) to a few Ontario cities . It wasn’t long to discover that there was more complexity to municipal operations than expected and as a result commenced a long learning curve to get at the facts. I am still learning.
In Ontario, the Provincial government demands financial information from the municipalities in the form of a Financial Information Report (FIR). This is one of the reports I used as a bank manager prior to advancing municipal loans. As of the 2006 report, the Ontario Government has required that the information in this report be signed by the city treasurer and be comparable to the financial statements, in otherwords, accurate. Previously, the financial information in this report was misrepresented by some municipalities and that is the reason the Ontario Government acted in 2006.
I am also heavily involved (out of personal interest) in encouraging the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (access to the FIR is available on this site) to standardize budget disclosure information for Ontario Municipalities. I have made comparisons with many Ontario cities and some of the larger municipalities across Canada. This was the only way to evaluate some expenses and compare the services offered in each unique municipality.
The City of Ottawa has tabled a 2008 draft budget recently and many taxpayers are upset one way or the other. I have also questioned whether or not the financial data in the presentation is correct. The disclosed financial information is in a format that the average city taxpayer wouldn’t have a clue how to read it and this is from a community that boasts the highest educated employees in the Country. So Be It. We will see how all this rolls out in the coming weeks.
Anyway, I am attaching a local document released last year prior to the municipal election. It was my first effort.
Keep up the good work,
Bill O’Malley, Ottawa, Ontario