Nova Scotia

Halifax fuel usage needs 'significant overhaul,' says auditor

The Halifax Regional Municipality spends about $4 million annually on fuel and the municipal auditor general says the city needs to create a system with better control over fuel usage.

Coun. Gloria McCluskey similarly unimpressed with 'loosey-goosey system'

In his report, Auditor General Larry Munroe said the city has a "lack of accountability for fuel usage." (CBC)

The Halifax Regional Municipality spends about $4 million annually on fuel and the municipal auditor general says the city needs to create a system with better control over fuel usage.

"The system needs a very, very significant overhaul," said Auditor General Larry Munroe.

City equipment such as fire trucks, snowplows and lawn mowers all require fuel — either gas or diesel. Munroe's report found no single manager is in charge of the $4 million in spending and there are no policies with respect to fuel usage.

"There is no overall corporate fuel policy and therefore no documented corporate guidance for employees to follow when making fuelling decisions. This lack of guidance is even more troubling considering the lack of accountability for fuel usage," said the report.

Munroe told reporters that causes him "great worries and concerns."

"If you see what this report has done, it's worked its way through the controls and you can see now, by not having the right kinds of controls, you don't drive the right kinds of reporting," he said Wednesday.

In his report, Munroe looked at fuel usage for city vehicles, excluding Halifax Transit. He is planning to do a separate review of Halifax Transit's fuel consumption.

The report found PINs are written on the backs of fuel cards and that there could be up to 80 missing or lost fuel key fobs — mostly from Halifax Regional Police.

One incident of a fuel card being misused was discovered — but only because it took place in Ontario. Managers admit that if it had happened in Nova Scotia, they wouldn't have discovered it.

It all came as a rude surprise to the municipality's audit and finance committee.

"I've been doing this quite a while. This is really strange," said Coun. Steve Adams, who sits on the committee.

"It's bizarre that this has been going on for this amount of time and there's no accountability for those that are using public property and spending public money."

Coun. Gloria McCluskey, who also sits on the committee, was unimpressed with the findings of the report.

"You know, I shake my head at this loosey-goosey system. Every penny out there, we're responsible to the taxpayers for it," she said.

The Halifax Regional Municipality says it plans to implement new controls.

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