Report Urges Reporting of Assets

Media Appearances, Municipal Government, Frontier Centre

The District of Maple Ridge ranked 59th out of 75 municipalities for financial reporting standards in a recent report by a right-wing think tank.

The ranking was in a report by the Frontier Centre For Public Policy in its Local Government Performance Index 2009 report. The Centre is based out of Winnipeg.

In it Maple Ridge was given a mark of 9 out of 34 for its financial reporting standards.

Maple Ridge had the most points deducted for not reporting capital assets.

Dean Barbour, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Chamber of Commerce, said one of the chamber’s members saw the report on the front page of a business magazine and it caused the chamber concern.

"We never want to be 59th. We want to be in the top 10. We want the district to address this," said Barbour. "When we see a report like this it is a cause for concern. We want to push the city, to let them know this was an issue."

Paul Gill, general manager of corporate and financial services, said it wasn’t a requirement for municipalities to report capital assets until this year and he said that’s where Maple Ridge had the most points deducted for its financial reporting.

Gill said the district has been compiling an inventory of all capital assets and will be reporting on them this year. He said other municipalities have decided to just estimate their assets but Maple Ridge will develop a complete inventory.

"We spent a lot of time compiling that inventory so that we could use the information to make decisions about replacement and repair," said Gill.

Gill said the capital assets information will be publicly reported on this spring.

"On the surface it’s disheartening when I hear someone ranks us 57 out of 74. I think our citizens have come to appreciate the documents we put out and have a lot of trust in them. When you look at the criteria behind it hopefully people understand what’s contributing to a score like this," he said, referring to the deductions for not reporting capital assets even though it wasn’t a regulatory requirement in the past. "It’s an area where we need to move towards and we’re making every effort to move that way so when our 2009 report comes out it’s going to have capital assets on it."

Gill said he "welcomes suggestions" on the district’s financial reporting and said it’s changed and improved every year.

Gill also pointed to the fact that the district has won awards for its financial reporting for the last 15 years. Last year the district won the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The association represents government finance officers in Canada and the United States.

Gill said he would review the Frontier Centre report to see if there are any areas that can be improved.

The Frontier Centre doesn’t believe climate change is caused by human activity. It also believes government should be "a purchaser, not a provider of services" among other key themes.