Auditor General Véronique Boily files last report of her seven-year mandate
In her final report as the City of Laval’s auditor-general before reaching the end of her 7-year mandate in December, Véronique Boily singles out the Laval Police Dept. for having insufficient controls over motor vehicle fuel purchases made with city credit cards, while taking into account the volume of purchases last year.
Questions over gas cards
In her report, the auditor-general pointed out that the Service de police de Laval (SPL) and the Service de sécurité incendie de Laval (SSIL), which are the city’s biggest users of gas cards, had previously adopted directives to ensure their proper management.
However, as Boily’s department states in a summary of her report, “the controls exercised by the Police Department are clearly insufficient for the volume of purchases, which amounted to $1.5 million in 2022.”
The report also pointed out that the city’s fuel card management system “lacks rigor since there is no mechanism to ensure that active cards are associated with vehicles in service. At the Police Department, the constabulary has not set up a register to identify users and vehicles involved when borrowing a reserve card, although $90,000 was charged to it from June 2020 to May 2022.”
Credit card use way up
According to Boily’s report, City of Laval gas cards accounted for $2.1 million in purchases in 2022. In June 2022, 336 active cards were associated with a police vehicle and 106 with the Fire Department. She said the overall value of credit card purchases had risen substantially over the past decade, from around $80,000 in 2012 to over $1.1 million in 2022, although this was in line with the growth of online commerce. She said the number of active cards increased by +25% between 2020 and 2022.
The report noted that the city had not carried out monitoring activities or implemented appropriate corrective measures in light of the credit card issues. Among other things, Boily found that from 2020 to 2022, late payment of gas card balances cost $17,000, without the situation being brought under control.
‘Strategic objectives’ ignored
As a result of the gas credit card issues, six recommendations made in her report are mainly focused on improving the efficiency of management controls to optimize the use of the city’s gas cards, as well as ensuring greater transparency of purchases made on them.
In a section focusing on business credit cards and expense reimbursements, Boily concluded that the policies and procedures governing the use of credit cards and the reimbursement of expenses to employees had not been updated and were not aligned with the strategic objectives for sustainable mobility.
Although her department found that the majority of transactions tested were properly approved, accounted for, and justified, she noted that there was no limit to the amount of accommodation expenses reimbursed and that in some cases, accommodation expenses were high and did not reflect the concern for economy expected in the management of public funds.
In another area of concern regarding public access-to-information requests, Boily said she wanted to ensure that the city responds to requests for access to documents in accordance with legislative requirements and good management practices.
She concluded that the town clerk’s Office had adopted practices that promote the processing of requests in accordance with legal requirements. However, there were a number of areas where efficiency could be improved, she added, particularly in terms of analyzing the reasons why response times were exceeded.
In addition, she said improvements need to be made to the information presented on the website dedicated for requests. The report gave rise to six recommendations for the clerk’s department to improve efficiency, as well as the quality of information and transparency of activities.
Passing grade at OMHL
In an audit of practices at the city’s Office Municipal d’Habitation de Laval, whose mission is to provide social and affordable housing, Boily said (in a context of scarcity of affordable housing) that she wanted to ensure that the maintenance of the OMHL’s building stock was carried out adequately, to extend the buildings’ life, ensure their durability and meet the demand.
She concluded that the OMHL had put in place maintenance and repair practices for the buildings under its responsibility that promote compliance with the requirements and practices determined or suggested by the SHQ and efficient and effective management of these activities.
However, she said certain elements could be improved to maintain and enhance the long-term viability of its real estate assets, such as the planning of preventive inspections, better management of deadlines for the refurbishment of housing units, and evaluation of the financial reserve for short-term financing of renovation and maintenance projects for buildings owned by the OMHL.