ANOTHER political step has been taken to ensure the police headquarters project will be reviewed by external auditors.
After a week that saw several councillors abandon their opposition to an audit, members of Mayor Sam Katz's executive policy committee overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to bring a motion to council for an audit to be done before the next civic election.
"We need to go through the whole process (of an audit) to restore confidence, to ensure nothing inappropriate or untoward was done," said Coun. Jeff Browaty, who brought the motion to EPC.
The motion must still be approved by council at its Jan. 29 meeting, but its passage is now assured.
Members of EPC voted 6-1 to authorize the city auditor to hire outside professionals to review the project, the cost of which increased to $210 million from $135 million between 2009 and 2012.
Only Coun. Justin Swandel voted against the motion, explaining later the risks were identified in the original budget and the $500,000 price tag for the audit will not uncover anything that hadn't been disclosed in previous reports.
The audit is to be done within 150 days of council approving it, ensuring it will be completed well in advance of the Oct. 22 civic election.
Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who had been pressuring Katz and members of his EPC for the audit since the November vote, said she is pleased with the turn of events.
Havixbeck said she's concerned the auditor's office will reduce the depth of the review to comply with the 150-day deadline.
"Something procedurally has gone wrong and continues to go wrong," with the project, Havixbeck said.
"As we head into an election, I want these answers for citizens before people go to the polls."
Council was told in 2009 the $135-million cost was a guaranteed maximum price, but didn't know that was grossly misleading as the figure was based on only 30 per cent of the plans being completed.
Most of the cost increases were the result of key items omitted from the initial budget that were later added back in, including furniture and mechanical and electrical upgrades and necessary security upgrades.