Surrey, Vancouver score high marks on municipal financial reporting

Graham Cox / November 14, 2018

City Hall in the heart of Surrey, British Columbia
(Surrey Now-Leader)

A recent report released by the C.D. Howe Institute has graded the major municipalities across Canada on their financial reporting and budgeting. According to the study, reporting across the nation is sub-par, but two major British Columbian communities rose to the top: Surrey and Vancouver.

Surrey was the only city to boast an A+ score as a result of clarity and completeness of its financial presentation. According to the analysts who produced the report, Surrey approves its budget and financial statements early, while also making its fiscal footprint readily available and easy to find.

The C.D. Howe report emphasized that Surrey is the only major municipality that reports its budget and financial statements in sync with its fiscal year.

Vancouver also scored close to the top with an A- grade. John Miles, Director of Financial Reporting and Analysis for the City of Vancouver said he puts a lot of value in this report and monitors Vancouver’s score year after year to see how the city can improve its reporting.

“We always want to make sure that we are being fully transparent as a municipal government because we know it is certainly an aspect that is critical for the public. They want to make sure that we are deploying the capital dollars in the best way possible and that they know how we are going to be spending that money as well.” – John Miles, Director of Financial Reporting and Analysis

Other British Columbian cities like Burnaby and Richmond ranked in the middle of the pack, where major cities like Montreal and Toronto scored F’s.

Low scores seemed to be par for the course based on the report’s findings, as the C.D. Howe Institute claimed that “most major cities produce budgets that omit key activities and treat operating and capital expenditures inconsistently,” while suggesting that cities need to produce information that taxpayers can understand and recommending councillors hold cities accountable for their use of public funds.

The full results on all 31 municipalities assessed in the report can be found here and a quick look at each location’s grade can be found in the map below.