Hamilton Audit, Finance and Administration Committee: December 9, 2013 [Replay]

Councillor’s expressed their frustrations with staff sick days, management’s mishandling of sexual harassment, and the culture of fear that prevents staff from reporting misconduct during their meeting Monday.

They directed the City Manager to more aggressively deal with sick days, to return with a strong policy on workplace harassment and bullying – to include clear consequences for managers who fail to act or be concerned about misconduct under their watch, and to have the City Manager act on the culture of fear that prevents the reporting of misconduct.

Full Replay of the Meeting in Story


Council’s Audit, Finance and Administration Committee is making up for cancelled meetings today with an agenda of 47 items to complete in less than four hours.

Among the highlights: the quarterly procurement exceptions and violations, staff sick days continue to increase – despite efforts to lower the average per employee, making staff feel they can blow the whistle on wrongdoing – less than half of staff feel they can do so without reprisal, and approving an interest-free loan to the Rosedale Tennis Club.

Livestream starts at 9:30 a.m.

Note: Coverage will be on Joey Coleman’s Livestream channel today.

[module type=”aside” width=”half” align=”right”]AF&A AGENDA
Monday, December 9, 2014

DELEGATION REQUESTS
4.1 Gerry Campbell, Ironworkers Local 736, respecting a request to have the wages of the Ironworkers and Rodworkers added to the Wage Schedule of the Fair Wage Policy (Future Meeting)
4.2 John O’Toole, respecting a denied Risk Management Claim for Damage to his Vehicle (Future Meeting)

CONSENT ITEMS
5.1 Fair Wage Policy and Fair Wage Schedule Complaints – 2013 Annual Report
5.2 Annual Tax Arrears Update – As of December 31, 2012
5.3 Restructured Master Asset Vehicle Notes and Asset Backed Commercial Paper Update
5.4 2012 Audited Financial Statements for City of Hamilton Business Improvement Areas
5.5 LGBTQ Space Needs Follow Up
5.6 Monthly Status Report of Tenders and Requests for Proposals for August 31, 2013 to October 4, 2013
5.7 2013 Third Quarter Non-compliance with the Procurement Policy Report
5.8 Monthly Status Report of Tenders and Requests for Proposals for October 5, 2013 to November 1, 2013
5.9 2013 Third Quarter Emergency and Non-competitive Procurements Report
5.10 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan Status Update
5.11 2012 City of Hamilton Municipal Performance Measurement Program
5.12 CRTC – Fibre Optic Cable in Rural Areas
5.13 Freedom of Information Quarterly Report (July 1 to September 30, 2013)
5.14 Update on DARTS Review
5.15 DARTS Review and the Evaluation of Value for Money Audit Program
5.16 Follow Up of Audit Report 2012-03 – Construction Contracts Review
5.17 Various Advisory Committee Minutes:
(a) Aboriginal Advisory Committee, June 6, 2013
(b) Hamilton Mundialization Committee, June 19, 2013
(c) Status of Women Committee, June 27, 2013
(d) Status of Women Committee, September 26, 2013
(e) Committee Against Racism, September 24, 2013
5.18Employee Attendance Performance Measures – Q3 2013
5.19 Treasurer’s Apportionment of Land Taxes
5.20 2014 Interim Tax Levy and Temporary Borrowing By-Laws
5.21 Tax Appeals under Sections 357 and 358 of the Municipal Act (2001)

DISCUSSION ITEMS
8.1 2012 Annual Energy Report on Commodity Price Hedging
8.2 Armoured Car Services – Authorization to Negotiate
8.3 Governance Review Sub-Committee Report 13-002, October 22, 2013
8.4 Status of Women Committee, Report SWC13-001 – Transfer from Reserve
8.5 HMRF/HWRF Pension Administration Sub-Committee Report 13-001, November 12, 2013
8.6 Procurement Sub-Committee Report 13-001, November 25, 2013
8.7 Retention of Live Streamed Recordings of Council and Standing Committees
8.8 2014 Advance Payments to External Boards and Agencies
8.9 Hamilton Street Railway Pension Plan Text – Revised and Restated as of January 1, 2009
8.10 Hamilton Street Railway Pension Plan, Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund Exemption
8.11 2013 City of Hamilton External Audit Plan
8.12 2014 Budget Requests – Volunteer Advisory Committees
8.13 Rosedale Tennis Club Loan Request
8.14 Performance Audit Report 2013-15 – Cheques (Value for Money Audit)
8.15 Audit Report 2013-08 – Public Works – Transit Overtime
8.16 Audit Report 2013-09 – Community & Emergency Services – Hamilton Fire Department – Overtime
8.17 2014 Internal Audit Work Plan
8.18 Provision of Information Technology Services to Global Spectrum
8.19 Corporate Culture, Values & Ethics for City Employees
8.20Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policies
8.21Workplace Violence Prevention Policy

MOTIONS
9.1Tax Rebates for Eligible Charities and Similar Organizations

DELAYED REPORTS

  • City-Wide Cash Handling Guidelines – until Jan 20/14
  • Performance Audit Report 2013/14 Employer Paid Parking – until Feb 24/14

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LGBTQ Committee Space

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Needs Assessment presented to Council in June 2013 found the LGBTQ committee needs its own space to advance its work.

In June, staff were instructed to provide an update on the search for space twice a year.

Their six-month report found no space thus far.

Last week, Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins suggested – during the General Issues Committee Budget meeting – that new surplus public health space at 2255 Barton Street could serve the needs of the LGBTQ committee.

Non-Compliant Procurements

In Q3, there were 25 instances of non-compliance with City procurement policies for a total of $341,271. A listing of the instances is provided in the agenda. I’ve requested more information related to the following:

  • P.O. 71542 – $32,400.00 to Shaw Cablesystems by Hamilton Fire;
  • $125,868.69 to Global Spectrum;

The following non-compliant procurements are by Councillor’s offices:

  • $960.50 to Zing Media Inc.;
  • $1,500.00 to Bob Penner;
  • $3,146.38 to Zing Media Inc.; and
  • $3,723.35 to Zing Media Inc.

Non-Competitive & Emergency Procurements

During the Q3 of 2013, the City made 76 large purchases totaling $3,768,000 as non-competitive or emergency procurements. Six were emergency procurements, the other 70 non-competitive.

Some of the highlights:

  • $198,860 due to the infestation of Zebra mussels in the main pumping station at the water intake pipes for the City’s water supply. The mussels did extensive damage to screens that protect downstream pumps from damage.
  • $175,000 to Karrys Bros Limited for “the supply and delivery of wholesale foods, confectionary, hot beverages for resale to all City concessions and Sackville Seniors Centre”
    (EDITORS NOTE: I’ve asked the City for the purchase order documentation on this purchase)
  • $120,000 to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce by Corporate Services (P.O. requested)
  • $100,000 to MMMC Inc Architects for Macassa Lodge (P.O. Requested)
  • $60,000 to Coca-Cola by Recreation (P.O. Requested)

City Staff Absences Increase

Sick Days

The average sick days per “eligible employee” among City staff per quarter is up from 2.52 to 2.77 between Q3 of 2012 and Q3 of 2013. An increase of 0.25 day or 1.75 hours per City employee.

The cost: $2,903,213

This despite a concerted effort by the City Manager’s office to address sick days.

WSIB Cases

The City’s WSIB cases are up, however, the overall cost of the cases is down.

Average days “lost per new claim” is up from 8.08 to 9.60 days, the total days lost is up from 2,020 to 2,350, costs for new claims up $97,956 to $125,177, however the total cost of claims is down $1,249,573 to $1,245,935.

Long-term Disability

Cases are up from 105 to 122 in the past two quarters for a total of 4,776 is lost days.

Retention of Live Streamed Recordings of Council and Standing Committees

Council is suspending the practice of destroying recordings of meetings at the end of each Council term while it determines a long-term plan for its video recordings of meetings.

Loan for Rosedale Tennis Club

Staff are recommending Council say yes to a request from the Rosedale Tennis Club for an interest-free 15 year loan of $180,000 to fund a new bubble to allow the club, located in Gage Park, to continue offering year-round tennis.

The Club asked for the loan in a September letter to Council.

City policy allows for interest-free loans to be given to groups that are upgrading or enhancing City property.

The loan will cost the City $64,700 over the 15-year term in lost interest compared to current market rates.

City Corporate Culture, Values, & Ethics

The City Manager is bring forth a five year plan to improve corporate culture.

The extensive report identifies numerous problems with steps to address them.

One of the most concerning – less than half of City staff says they can report misconduct without fear of retaliation. That’s a huge problem because it allows misconduct, fraud, and harassment to occur.

The plan is to increase awareness of the City’s whistleblower program. (Editors Note: The City’s whistleblower program does not allow for anonymity, nor does it allow for online submission. It’s time to improve the program, not just awareness.)

Harassment Policies

The City’s workplace harassment and violence policies are getting an update after recent legislative changes.

The update is timely following this year’s sexual harassment fiasco within the HSR where an arbitrator found that management failed to take sexual harassment seriously and strongly condemned how the City allowed a poisonous culture to exist within it’s transit division.

The updated policy includes clear wording that City managers are to take workplace harassment and violence seriously. The policy states that if a manager fails to immediately notify human resources when they become aware of harassment, that manager will face discipline, including possible dismissal.

Property Tax Rebates for Non-Profit Education Institutions

Dundas Councillor Russ Powers is moving a motion to extend 100% municipal property tax rebates to non-profit educational institutions that rent in Hamilton, provided they’d get a 100% rebate if they owned the property they rent.

Powers is also moving for the City to write-off all outstanding taxes owned by the Hamilton Academy of Performing Arts, in the amount of $85,382.96.

Hamilton Academy of Performing Arts is a private day school offering Grades 4 to 12. It is fully accredited by the Ministry of Education.

It is not known in advance of the meeting what the total yearly city-wide cost of the expanded rebates will be.