Committee of the Whole Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the December 5 Meeting?

The final Committee-of-the-Whole meeting of the year doesn’t have anything too terribly controversial, but it looks to be a busy one with audit discussions, budget variances, and suggestions to update bylaws pertaining to Guelph’s beloved domesticated animals and pets.

COW-AUD-2016.1 2016 External Audit Plan – Earlier this year, Council approved KPMG LLP to be the auditor for this nearly completed fiscal year. So considering that, the year end that is, KPMG has prepared an audit plan for the City’s 2016 books. Staff has reviewed the firm’s plan and have no concerns. KPMG will begin their review later this month with an eye on presenting their findings to council in June 2017.

COW-AUD-2016.2 Internal Audit Work Plan 2017-2019 – While KPMG handles the external audit, the City does its own internal audit to assess quality, economy, and efficiency of processes and evaluates emerging technologies and analysis opportunities. The difference between the the internal and the external audit is that the external one focuses purely on the finances, while the internal focuses on organization, management and risk. To get the audit done, all potential projects identified and prioritized based on risk level, it consists primarily of operational audits that focus on the effectiveness and efficiency of processes and compliance, and it’s flexible in case unforeseen events arise. On the downside though, there is presently only one auditor, so all projects may not be complete before the end of 2017.

COW-CS-2016.7 Q3 2016 Operating Variance Report – In a classic good news/bad news situation, the third quarter of the year saw a $279,800 net unfavourable variance for the tax supported budget, and a $946,500 net favourable variance for the non-tax supported budget.

COW-CS-2016.8 2016 Q3 Capital Variance Report – The third quarter of the year tends to be busiest for capital projects, but the good news is that all projects, save for one, are on budget and are not forecasted to go over budget. The only exception is an $455,000 for the Clair/Laird Hanlon Interchange.

COW-CS-2016.9 Outstanding Motions of the Corporate Services Area – There are three motions from Corporate Services that the committee is still waiting for action on. The report on tax ratios and the property tax policy is waiting on the receipt of data from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) in 2017, the Internal Audit report is presented at this meeting, and a human resources matter is ongoing.

COW-CS-2016.10 City of Guelph Tartan Inventory – Back in November 1994, the City Council of the time decided to restrict the use of the Official Guelph Tartan and delegate authority to the City Clerk for determining the use and distribution of the Tartan inventory. Guelph’s Tartan inventory has been unchanged since 2000, and the restrictions have meant that community groups and individuals have been forced to limit their Tartan use. But now, the Tartan inventory (seven 140 metre rolls at $2,400 each) is seriously depreciating, so City staff is recommending that those restrictions be loosened, including the dissolving of the so-called Tartan committee.

C0W-CS-2016.11 Digital Services Update – Open Guelph with City staff and partners worked on six new digital tools through 2016 to make engaging with City services easier for citizens online, and through devices like tablets and smart phones. As 2016 draws to a close, four of those services are ready to roll out including the Waste Reminder (what garbage goes out when), Council Search (city council minutes back to 2006), “I Want to…” (a simple way of trying to learn what city service you need), and the Park Maintenance Tracker (see when your local park was last maintained and see when it will be maintained again). Two other digital services will continue to be developed for 2017, the second of a three year project funded by the City at $42,500 per year.

COW-PS-2016.5 By-law Service Review, Animal Control – Recently, the City undertook a community engagement process to learn what was needed for an update to the Animal Control bylaws, and we’re talking about more than just dogs and cats too. For instance, proposed in the amendments is an exception to the Prohibited Animal Schedule “A” be added to allow up to two sheep or goats to be allowed on on a single property for up to 12 properties; roosters, meanwhile, will be prohibited. Licensing of cats will be phased in over the next year, and not become mandatory until 2018. There will be a $25 Annual Licensing Fee per cat, with $5 of each cat license sold will be allocated to a program to be developed by the Animal Control Working Group, Guelph Humane Society and City Staff to address health and welfare issues for cats. Staff are also being recommended to look at developing new regulations, including the prohibition of dog and cat sales within the City’s Business Licensing By-law, with input from representatives from pet stores and other stakeholders. There will also be reduced licensing fees for residents that qualify for other City subsidies.

COW-PS-2016.6 Street Tree Ownership – In the City of Guelph, Street Trees are separated into three different but equally important groups: City, Private, and “Shared” or “Boundary”. This report is meant to report on the progress of putting together the City’s tree inventory, and in their investigations they’ve discovered that 10,000 of the City’s nearly 40,000 Street Trees are privately owned, and the owners might not be aware of that fact, or their responsibility. For those trees, the City only has a maintenance mandate to ensure right-of-way safety, leaving property owners to manage the rest on their own. Some are okay with that arrangement, others feel like the City’s passing the buck, so a new policy will be developed by staff and come before council in the second quarter of 2017 to address that disparity. In the meantime, the tree inventory is 90 per cent complete with the count at 737,000 trees, including ones in in City-owned and City-managed forests.

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