City councillors are about to take another crack at settling the sticky internal issue of whether it's right for the city auditor and city clerk to both report to two masters.

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This article was published 19/1/2010 (4507 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City councillors are about to take another crack at settling the sticky internal issue of whether it's right for the city auditor and city clerk to both report to two masters.

In 2008, city council approved a reorganization of city hall that saw the auditor and clerk report both to politicians and chief administrative officer Glen Laubenstein.

The change was part of Laubenstein's efforts to modernize the city's 8,200-member civil service. At the time, only St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves voted against the reorganization.

But by the fall of 2009, the dual reporting relationships for the clerk and auditor became unpopular with a majority of councillors.

In October, Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith questioned the independence of the city auditor after asking him to examine Laubenstein's decision to spend almost $190,000 on a single consultant in a series of sole-sourced contracts. The next month, Smith and Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi formally asked council to reverse part of the reorganization and have city auditor Brian Whiteside report only to city council.

The opposition councillors found unlikely allies in Steeves and St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel, who are both members of Mayor Sam Katz's cabinet. In December, Steeves and Swandel made a friendly amendment to the Smith/Gerbasi motion and placed the city clerk Richard Kachur solely under the control of city council.

Both changes - or rather, reversions - will come before council's executive policy committee this morning. The general gist is that Whiteside and Kachur won't have two sets of bosses, said Steeves and Swandel.

Gerbasi said she hopes whatever motion arises today will honour the intention of what she and Smith proposed back in the fall. "What drove our motion in the first place was quite clear -- there are a number of areas where the CAO has been given a lot more power," she said. "The auditor is supposed to be the watchdog of the administration, so why would you have him under the control of the administration?"

Whiteside and provincial auditor Carol Bellringer have said the reporting relationships do not matter, as the city auditor and clerk's duties and independence are enshrined in provincial legislation.

Katz and Old Kildonan Coun. Mike O'Shaughnessy have also said they have no problem with the dual relationships, which raises the possibility Steeves and Swandel may have trouble getting any changes past executive policy committee this morning.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca