About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Committee of the Whole Preview - What's on the Agenda for the June 6 Meeting?

In spite of the unintentional best efforts of city council this week, Committee-of-the-Whole will proceed with its June meeting with a jam-packed agenda including updates on audits and budgets, moving to a low carbon City Hall, and the official presentation of the proposed realignment of Transit routes to council this September.
COW-AUD-2017.03 2016 Consolidated Financial Statements and External Audit Findings Report - The external auditor KPMG LLP has reviewed the financial statements for a number of City agencies, and agencies for which the City is a partner. For example, the Elliot Community is still posting a deficit of $344,000, but the staff report notes that this is an improvement over deficits past that were $1 million or more in the days before the Elliott was designated a long-term care facility by the City of Guelph in February 2015. The Downtown Guelph Business Association meanwhile had a good year with a $20,000 surplus, the second year in a row with a surplus after five straight years of deficits, while Guelph Junction Railway Ltd. posted a net income of $506,000 for 2016. The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit paid back $859,000 to the City for the 2013 construction of two Public Health capital projects that were debt-funded for Guelph's portion, but Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc posted a net loss of $1.3 million.
COW-AUD-2017.04 2016 Unconsolidated Financial Statements and Financial Highlights - Once the consolidated statements are discussed, we will move on to the unconsolidated statements, which basically removes anything that has to do with the Elliot Community, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, or the City's cut of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit. The good news is that the City is in a stable financial position with these line items, which ensures the current levels of service and infrastructure without resorting to cuts in service. In 2016, revenues increased by $15 million thanks to $4 million in developer and government contributions. At the same time though, expenditures went up $10 million, mainly due to an increase of $6.8 million that goes to salary and benefits.
COW-AUD-2017.05 Internal Audit Follow-Up Process - Staff will layout an internal auditing process to follow-up and track recommendations agreed upon by management.
COW-AUD-2017.06 Legal Representation Follow-Up Audit - Back in 2012, an audit of legal services at City Hall was undertaken. A follow-up adult that came back to council in March 2014 noted that all the recommendations, save for five, had been enacted. So problem solved, right? Actually, a follow-up follow-up audit that was done this past April has found that only three of the five recommendations have been enacted. Simplified performance measurements and cost effectiveness is one area that needs improvement, while a new policy meant to advise on the use of external council and how those costs should be handled has been approved, but has yet to been implemented.
COW-AUD-2017.07 Vendor / Payment Process Audit Report - A review was recently done on how the Finance department handles purchase orders, vendor management and payments City wide. In 2016, the City of Guelph issued nearly 18,000 purchase orders to the tune of $176.5 million, and processed over 36,000 invoices amounting to $274 million. The recommendations cover five areas: governance oversight, security controls, purchase authorization controls, vendor management process controls, and purchase and change order controls. The suggestions are pretty straightforward with items like an annual review to ensure the accuracy and completeness of orders, and ensuring that all purchases are independently approved.
COW-CS-2017.8 Fibre-Optic Cable Build Phase 2 - Guelph's schools need more internet! Between the increased reliance on computers in teaching and the increasing number of school services being handled online, there's not enough bandwidth, so the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board are looking to team-up with the City to get more internet power! The deal will see both school boards cover the cost of installing fibre optic cable in exchange for them being allowed to use City-owned right-of-ways and underground conduits to install the new wiring, which is the quickest, easiest and most efficient way to get the job done. In an unexpected bonus, the Elizabeth St Fire Station and Victoria Road Recreation Centre will then be able to be connected to the rest of the City's own fibre optic network (presently installed in City Hall and the Clair Road Emergency Service Centre), and the City will take up maintenance costs, which comes with a $6,000 per year price tag. That's not bad since the City will end up saving about $60,000 per year in telecommunication services thanks to the upgrade.
COW-CS-2017.9 Budget Impacts per Ontario Regulation 284/09 and Budget Public Sector Accounting Standards Reconciliation - There are evidently three things that municipalities can exclude from expense reports in their budgets: amortization expense of tangible capital assets (the cost of specific assets over the entirety of their lifespan in other words), post-employment benefit expenses (pension, life insurance), and solid waste landfill post-closure expenses. Since these things are not accounted for in the budget, a report must still be prepared. Amortization comes to a total of $44.5 million for 2017, and the $58 million put in the combined budget contributions to capital reserve will go to the replacement and rehabilitation of those assets. As for benefits, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is expecting the cost to come to just over $2 million this year; $2.3 million was put in the 2017 budget includes reserve transfers to cover this year's contribution. Meanwhile, the liability for post-closure costs on the old landfill is $300,000.
COW-CS-2017.10 2017 Q1 Operating Variance Report - The City's first fiscal quarter ended on March 31, and while this report is based for the most part on estimates and historical precedence, it does seem to indicate that staff will have a lot of navigating to do over the next three quarters. For instance, hydro costs are higher than budgeted, while revenues from provincial fines, recyclable material user fees, and ice rentals are also down. On the bright side, fuel costs are trending lower, and stormwater revenue is higher than anticipated, while County Social Services is expected to be in a "favourable year-end position." There has also been a lower-than-budgeted trend on salaries and wages, but an increase in overtime and temp wages seems to be making that up. The big one though is probably the 10 per cent loss in revenue at Solid Waste recycling, as capacity was lost due to the installation of new equipment following the fire last year (that work is now complete). A report from the Solid Waster Task Force is due in September, and in the meantime staff will look at various mitigation measures.
COW-CS-2017.11 2017 Q1 Capital Variance and Activity Report - Typically capital spending is low in the first quarter of the year because its winter and not much construction is happening. Still, there are a couple of big ongoing projects. One is the renovations to police headquarters, which is proceeding on budget with the completion of the foundation and the installation of the new HVAC. Another is the Victoria Road Rec Centre renovations, which are on course for a June 24 grand re-opeing, but there is the possibility that the project will finish with a minor negative variance. The most recent call for the Wilson Street parkade construction is being evaluated now, and further tenders are waiting to be collected for the Niska Road redevelopment (including the bridge), Woodlawn Road and the York Trunk Sewer/Paisley Feeder Main Project.
COW-PS-2017.06 Land Ambulance Response Time Performance Plan for 2018 - Every year, the Guelph Wellington Paramedic Service must review their performance and set a plan to make improvements in response time on various categories of emergencies, illnesses and injuries. The good news is that the service does seem to be improving to meet the benchmarks laid out, but there is still some room to be better. An increase in staffing hours in Erin Township has had an affect on improving response times in that area, but there is a master plan in the work with recommendations to further increase response times. Meanwhile, staff are unable to provide assurance that the paramedics will be able to *exceed* targets, so they're recommending that that the targets as they are right now be carried over into 2018.
COW-PS-2017.07 Outdoor Aquatic Facilities in Parks - So the City has three wading pools that are over 40 years old. Not only are they not water efficient, but their inaccessible, require a full-time staff member to be on hand, and cost $19,000 per year per pool to operate, so the City of Guelph is going to transform them into splash pads. Well, two of them anyway. Exhibition and Sunny Acres Parks are going to make the conversion, but the wading pool at Mico Valeriote Park will not be replaced because of low use, poor access and the small park size. It's not yet known how much it will cost to make the conversions, but to build a new splash pad from scratch is between $400-$600,000. Two new splash pads at Jubilee and Northview Parks go online this year.
COW-PS-2017.08 Guelph Transit Special Event Fare Pilot Program - Last fall, there was a bit of controversy when the City unceremoniously dropped a popular program that allowed Guelph Storm ticket holders to ride the bus for free on Friday nights when the Storm play. Well the City, it seems, now has a better idea: $1 Transit fares for all Sleeman Centre and River Run Centre ticketed-event patrons, which would include all Guelph Storm home game ticket holders. If approved, the project will launch this fall and run for one-year as a pilot program with a six-month update report to come before council in the second quarter of 2018.
COW-PS-2017.09 Multi-Year Governance Agreement for the Joint Procurements Facilitated by Metrolinx - Basically, Guelph Transit is looking to team-up with Metrolinx (the operators of GO Transit) to take part in a program called the Transit Procurement Initiative (TPI), a five-year program that allows Metrolinx to work with municipalities for the joint procurement of specialized vehicles and related transit equipment or technology. Transit wants to take advantage of TPI to buy nine specialized vehicles for mobility services. The nine are already part of a buy of 20 new transit vehicles, half the cost for which will be covered by Public Transit Infrastructure Funds (PTIF) through the federal and provincial government.
COW-PS-2017.10 Guelph Transit Route Realignment - What will be presented to Committee in terms of the realignment plan will be, for the most part, what's already been reported here on Politico, but after consultations with over 700 people according to Transit there have since been a few adjustments. The new Routes #17 and #18 will continue to service the intersection at Woodlawn and Imperial like the 2A/B does now, and the #20 will service Marksam Rd between Speedvale and Willow after several people along that stretch complained about the loss of service. Also, buses will be diverted off of Stephen Dr, a road that runs between Marksam and Imperial, after several complaints to not put buses on that street.
COW-IDE-2017.28 Exploring Pathways for Aligning Guelph’s Corporate Assets with the Low Carbon Economy - This motion from Ward 1 Councillor Dan Gibson (as recently discussed in Gibson's appearance on Open Sources Guelph) will direct City staff to work with the Climate Change Office to find ways to transition the corporation, its buildings and fleet vehicles, to a net zero, or similar, low carbon designation. The report on this would be due back by the end of the year.
***CORRECTION: This post originally stated that the Committee of the Whole meeting is on Monday June 5, when it is actually on Tuesday June 6. 

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