Our Outlook - Checks and Balances

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A summary of independent assessments of our City

There are three significant independent assessments that are regularly conducted to independently assess the City of Hamilton’s operations:

  1. Internal Audits conducted by the City’s independent Audit Services Division on an ongoing basis.
  2. The annual independent external financial statement audit that is required to be conducted over the City’s financial statements. The current external auditor for the City of Hamilton is KPMG LLP.
  3. Periodic assessments of the City of Hamilton’s credit and debt ratings by external credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P).

Audit Services

The Audit Services Division works to establish trust and confidence in the services provided by the City of Hamilton by providing independent professional advice.

Improve the City of Hamilton’s business operations, and inspire citizens’ trust and confidence through objective, evidence based reporting.

  • Deliver independent, objective assurance and internal consulting services on the City’s systems, operations and services to ensure they are planned, organized, directed and controlled consistent with Council direction, policies and procedures, laws and regulations and the City’s objectives and standards. 
  • Monitor the adequacy of the City’s governance, risk management, and internal controls.
  • Assess expenditures for City operations and services and determine if value for money is achieved (economy, efficiency and effectiveness). 
  • Report the results of audits and the corresponding management action plans to Council to support transparency and accountability.
  • Evaluate action taken by management to address audit recommendations to ensure they have been resolved in a timely manner.
  • Administer complaints made under the Whistleblower By-law (No. 09-227).

The work of the Audit Services Division enables City Council to hold the City of Hamilton’s administration accountable for the quality of stewardship over public funds and for the achievement of value for money in municipal operations.

  • The Director of Audit Services, through By-law No. 12-073 (To Appoint the Director of Audit Services as an Auditor General under Section 223.19 of the Municipal Act, 2001), is appointed as an Auditor General and functionally reports to Council.
  • Audit Services is assessed via a quality assessment review that is conducted by an independent third party every five years to verify conformance to the Institute of Internal Auditors’ standards. The most recent assessment took place in 2012.
  • AUD13001 2013 Internal Audit Work Plan
  • AUD13002 Report 2011-05 - OW - Overpayments to Active Clients
  • AUD13003 Report 2011-03 - Sole and Single Source Procurement - Follow Up
  • AUD13004 Report 2010-11 - Citizen Service Centre - Funds Handling - Follow Up
  • AUD13005 Report 2012-06 - Snow Clearing Activities and Salt & Sand Contracts
  • AUD13006 Report 2012-10 - Public Health Services (PHS) - Tobacco Control Program
  • AUD13007 AUD13007 - Information Report - Annual Follow Up
  • AUD13008 Report 2010-13 - Domiciliary Hostels - Follow Up
  • AUD13009 Report 2011-06 - Infectious Diseases Programs - Follow Up
  • AUD13010 Report 2011-11 - PRESTO - Financial Controls - Follow Up
  • AUD13011 Report 2011-01 - Culture Facilities - Cash Handling - Follow Up
  • AUD13012 Procurement Policy #19 Review
  • AUD13013 Report 2011-12 - Parking Infractions & Enforcement - Follow Up
  • AUD13014 Report 2012-08 - Procurement Card Usage
  • AUD13015 Initial Performance Audit Projects
  • AUD13016 Report 2012-12 - Housing Services - Rent Supplement Programs
  • AUD13017 External Validation of the 2012 Self-Assessment Review
  • AUD13018 Report 2012-09 - City Vehicle Use, Allowance & Mileage Claims
  • AUD13019 Report 2012-07 - Community Partnership Program Grants
  • AUD13020 Report 2013-01 - Public Health Services (PHS) - Cold Chain / BIOS Program
  • AUD13021 Report 2013-03 - Building Permit Fees
  • AUD13022 2013 Performance Audit Work Plan
  • AUD13023 Report 2012-11 - Public Health Services (PHS) - Dental Services - Claims Payment Process
  • AUD13024 Report 2013-13 - Employer Paid Parking (Value for Money Audit)
  • AUD13025 Report 2011-09 - Information Services - Software Asset Management - Follow Up
  • AUD13026 Report 2013-05 - Community and Emergency Services - Food Services (Arenas and Recreation Facilities)
  • AUD13027 Community and Emergency Services - Corporate Trunked Radio Upgrade Project
  • AUD13028 Community Services - Domiciliary Hostel Program
  • AUD13029 Community Services - Culture Facilities - Cash Handling
  • AUD13030 2013-04 Hamilton Water - Inventory Controls
  • AUD13031 City-Wide Cash Handling Guidelines
  • AUD13032 Inactive Landfill Sites
  • AUD13034 Report 2013-15 - Cheques (Value for Money Audit)
  • AUD13035 Report 2012-03 - Construction Contracts Review - Follow Up
  • AUD13036 (we have this as CM13019) Report 2013-02 - Corporate Ethics Review
  • AUD13037 Report 2013-08 - Transit Overtime
  • AUD13038 Report 2013-09 - Fire Overtime
  • AUD13039 DARTS Review and Evaluation of the Value for Money Audit Program - Information Report
  • AUD13040 2014 Internal Audit Work Plan
  • AUD13041 Update on DART Review - Information Report
  • AUD14001 2013 Annual Follow Up of Outstanding Audit Recommendations
  • AUD14002 Report 2012-01 - Community Services - Recreation Facilities & Arenas – Cash Handling – Follow Up
  • AUD14003 Report 2013-11 - Public Works - Construction Contracts
  • AUD14004 Report 2013-12 - Public Works - Food Services (Golf Courses)
  • AUD14005 Report 2011-10 - Human Resources - Grievance Processes - Follow Up
  • AUD14006 Report 2012-05 - Long Term Contract Review - Recycling Collection Services - Recycling Collection (Blue Box Collection) - Follow Up
  • AUD14007 Report 2013-16 - Community and Emergency Services - Homes for the Aged - Accommodation Fees and Trust Funds
  • AUD14008 Unlicensed Businesses - Value for Money Audit
  • AUD14009 Report 2012-02 - Public Works - Bridge Maintenance Program - Follow Up
  • AUD14010 Report 2012-10 - Public Health Services - Tobacco Control Program - Follow Up
  • AUD14011 Report 2013-18 - Corporate Services - Investments
  • AUD14012 Assessment and Funding for Value for Money Audit Program
  • AUD14013 Follow Up of External Validation of the 2012 Self-Assessment Review
  • AUD14014 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) Report 2013-10 - Corporate Services - Information Security and Identity & Access Management Review
  • AUD14015 Report 2014-01 - Public Works - Fuel Usage
  • AUD14016 Performance Audit Report 2013-19 - GPS/AVL Systems Performance Review (Value for Money)
  • AUD14017 Report 2013-17 - Public Works - Traffic Inventory
  • AUD14018 Report 2012-06 - Public Works - Snow Clearing Activities and Salt & Sand Contracts– Follow Up
  • AUD14019 Report 2012-12 - Housing Services - Rent Supplement Programs - Follow Up
  • AUD14020 Report 2014-02 - Planning and Economic Development - Building Inspections
  • AUD14021 Report 2013-03 - Planning and Economic Development - Building Permit Fees - Follow Up
  • AUD14022 Report 2014-03 - Community and Emergency Services - Recreation Division - Scheduling and Payroll
  • AUD14023 Report 2014-05 - Roster Requirements Review 
  • AUD14024 Report 2012-09 - City Vehicle Use, Allowances & Mileage Claims - Follow Up
  • AUD14025 Performance Audit Report 2014-11 - DARTS Project
  • AUD15001 Report 2014-15 - Review of Issues Identified by Mr. Chandrashekar
  • AUD15002 2014 Annual Follow Up of Outstanding Recommendations
  • AUD15003 Report 2014-04 - Corporate Services - Long Term Debt
  • AUD15004 Report 2014-07 - Community and Emergency Services - Hamilton Paramedic Service Scheduling & Payroll
  • AUD15005 Report 2013-01 - Public Health Services - Cold Chain/BIOS Program – Follow Up
  • AUD15006 Audit Services Charter
  • AUD15007 Information Report - Management Reponses to Performance Audit 2013-19 - GPS/AVL
  • AUD15008 2015 Internal Audit Work Plan
  • AUD15009 Report 2015-09 Follow Up of Audit Report 2013-07 - Inactive Landfills
  • AUD15010 2015 Performance Audit Work Plan
  • AUD15011 Report 2013-04 - Hamilton Water-Inventory Controls - Follow Up
  • AUD15012 (Appendix B not included as it is P&C) Report 2014-09 - Corporate Services - Accounts Receivable
  • AUD15013 Report 2014-14 - Public Health Services -Hamilton Prenatal Nutrition Program
  • AUD15014 Report 2012-11 - Public Health Services - Dental Services - Claims Payment Process - Follow Up
  • AUD15015 Report 2014-10 - Planning & Economic Development - Animal Services
  • AUD15016 Report 2013-09 - Community & Emergency Services - Hamilton Fire Department - Follow Up
  • AUD15017 Report 2014-08 - Absenteeism
  • AUD15018 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) Report 2015-02 - Claims Adjusters & Operational Efficiencies (Value for Money Audit)
  • AUD15019 Follow Up to Audit Report 2013-16 Homes for the Aged
  • AUD15020 Audit Report 2014-12 By-law Enforcement
  • AUD15021 Audit Report 2014-17 Water Billings Process
  • AUD15022 Audit Report 2015-04 Water Supply Compliance/Conformance Review
  • AUD15023 Audit Report 2014-16 Records Management
  • AUD15024 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) Audit Report 2014-18 IT Hardware Asset Management
  • AUD15025 Audit Report 2015-03 VFM - Agenda Process
  • AUD15026 Audit Report 2015-01 Property Tax Billings & Collections
  • AUD15027 Evaluation of Value For Money Pilot Program
  • AUD15028 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) Audit Report 2015-06 PHS Encryption
  • AUD15030 Whistleblower Summary for 2010-2014
  • AUD15031 Audit Report 2015-08 Salary Payroll Audit 
  • AUD15032 Audit Report 2015-05 Transfer Stations Audit
  • AUD15033 Audit Report 2015-07 - Protective Plumbing Program (Value for Money Audit)
  • AUD16001 2015 Annual Follow Up
  • AUD16002 Fuel Usage Follow Up (2014-01)
  • AUD16003 Transit Overtime Follow Up (2013-08)
  • AUD16005 Work Plan 2016
  • AUD16006 Food Services Golf Follow Up (2013-12)
  • AUD16007 Traffic Inventory Follow Up (2013-17)
  • AUD16008 Information Report Whistleblower Information Report Q3 2015 and Q4 2015
  • AUD16009 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) Compliance With City-Wide Cash Handling Policies
  • AUD16010 Follow Up of Performance Audit Report 2013-14 - Unlicensed Businesses
  • AUD16011 Follow Up of Performance Audit Report 2013-15 - Cheques
  • AUD16012 Information Report Whistleblower Information Report Q1 2016
  • AUD16013 Grants Follow Up
  • AUD16014 Investments Follow Up
  • AUD16015 Long Term Debt Follow Up
  • AUD16016 (Appendix A not included, hardcopy only) Information Report Whistleblower Information Report Q2 2016
  • AUD16018 Information Report Summary of Results: Driver Certification Program (DCP) Audit - Hamilton Fire Department
  • AUD16019 Information Report Summary of Results: Driver Certification Program (DCP) Audit - Hamilton Street Railway
  • AUD16020 Building Inspections Follow Up
  • AUD16021 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) IS & IAM Review Follow Up
  • AUD16022 Value-for-Money Consulting Report: Performance Measurement Research and Next Steps
  • AUD16023 Information Report - Whistleblower Information Report Q3 2016
  • AUD16025 LRT Risk Assessment Update
  • AUD17001 Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-05 Roster Requirements Review
  • AUD17002 Follow Up to Audit Report 2013-19 GPS/AVL Systems Performance Review
  • AUD17003 Follow Up to Audit Report 2013-05 Community and Emergency Services - Food Services (Arenas and Recreation Facilities)
  • AUD17004 Information Report Whistleblower Information Update for Q4 2016
  • AUD17005 Audit Report 2015-11 Public Works - Capital Projects Contract Review & Follow Up to Audit Report 2013-11 Construction Contracts Review
  • AUD17006 Audit Report 2015-14 Continuous Auditing Pilot – Procurement Cards
  • AUD17007 (public information only) Performance Audit Report 2016-09 Ontario Works Employment Services Review
  • AUD17007(a)Performance Audit Report 2016-09 Ontario Works Employment Services Review – Amended
  • AUD17008 Performance Audit Report 2016-03 - Use of External Consultants
  • AUD17009 Audit Report 2015-13 Continuous Auditing Pilot - Accounts Payable
  • AUD17010 Information Report Whistleblower Information Update for Q1 2017
  • AUD17011 Performance Audit Report 2017-01 - Reserves
  • AUD17012 Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-07 Community and Emergency Services - Hamilton Paramedic Service (HPS) Scheduling & Payroll
  • AUD17013 Evaluation of Value for Money Pilot Program
  • AUD17014 (Appendices A & B not included as they are P&C) Audit Report 2016-06 & Follow Up to Audit Report 2015-15 - Compliance with City-Wide Cash Handling Policy (In Camera)
  • AUD17015 Information Report Hamilton Fire Department Driver Certification Program (DCP) Audit - Summary of Results (2017-02)
  • AUD17016 Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-14 Public Health Services (PHS) - Hamilton Prenatal Nutrition Program (HPNP)
  • AUD17017 Follow Up to Audit Report 2015-04 Public Works - Water Supply Compliance Review
  • AUD17018 Information Report Whistleblower Information Update for Q2 2017
  • AUD17019 (Appendix B not included as it is P&C) Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-09 Corporate Services - Accounts Receivable
  • AUD17020 2016 Annual Follow Up of Outstanding Audit Recommendations Summary – Status Report (Greater Than 5 Years)
  • AUD17021 Review of the CityHousing Hamilton Parking Lot Project at 395 Mohawk Road East (2016-08)
  • AUD17022 Follow Up to Audit Report 2015-01 Corporate Services - Property Tax Billing & Collection
  • AUD17023 Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-10 Planning & Economic Development - Animal Services
  • AUD17024 Audit Report 2017-03 CityHousing Hamilton Review - Purchasing & Payment System
  • AUD17025 Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-17 Public Works - Water Billings Process
  • AUD17026 Follow Up to Audit Report 2015-08 Corporate Services - Salary Payroll Audit
  • AUD17027 (Appendix A not included as it is P&C) Follow Up to Audit Report 2015-06 Public Health Services - Encryption Audit
  • AUD17028 Follow Up to Audit Report 2015-03 Office of the City Clerk - Agenda Process
  • AUD17029 Audit Report 2017-04 Public Works - Office Accommodations
  • AUD17030 Information Report Whistleblower Information Update for Q3 2017
  • AUD17031 Follow Up to Performance Audit Report 2015-07 Protective Plumbing Program (Value for Money Audit)
  • AUD17032 Follow Up to Audit Report 2014-16 Office of the City Clerk - Records Management
  • AUD18001 Information Report Whistleblower Information Update for Q4 2017

Annual External Financial Statement Audit

The City of Hamilton’s external auditor is KPMG LLP. They conducted an annual financial statement audit for the period January to December 2017.

For this audit, the audit opinion was that the City of Hamilton’s consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position as at December 31, 2017, and its consolidated results of operations, its consolidated changes in net financial assets and its consolidated cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards. This was released in June 2018 by KPMG LLP in the independent auditor’s report.

Independent Auditor's Report (PDF, 130KB).

Credit and Debt (Bond) Ratings

What is a Credit Rating? A credit rating is an evaluation of the credit risk of a prospective debtor (an individual, a business, company or a government), predicting their ability to pay back the debt, and an implicit forecast of the likelihood of the debtor defaulting.

What is a Debt (Bond) Rating? A bond rating is a grade given to a bond that indicates its credit quality. A bond rating evaluates a bond issuer's financial strength or its ability to pay a bond's principal and interest in a timely fashion. 

The City of Hamilton’s Rating
In June 2017, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global Rating Services released their research update, raising its long-term credit and debt ratings on the City of Hamilton to ‘AA+’ with a stable outlook from ‘AA’. An ‘AA’ rating is the second highest rating that is possible to be obtained. An ‘AA’ rating means that the organization’s capacity of meet its financial commitments on obligations are very strong. The modification of a rating with a plus sign (+) shows relative standing within the major rating categories.

In November 2017, S&P Global Rating Services affirmed the rating of AA+ with a stable outlook.

Credit rating agencies assess the relative credit risk of specific debt securities or structured finance instruments and borrowing entities (issuers of debt) including the creditworthiness of governments and their securities. An organization’s credit and debt rating has an impact on the organization’s cost of borrowing. Generally the higher the credit rating of an organization, the lower their cost of borrowing is (e.g. interest rate).

Among the credit ratings of 12 Ontario municipalities rated from ‘AA’ to ‘AAA’ by S&P, Hamilton ranked fourth (behind Durham, Halton and Peel, and ahead of Guelph, York, Barrie, Kingston, Niagara, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor).

This ‘AA+’ credit rating and stable outlook reflect the City’s high rankings in most categories, including:

  • Institutional framework – very predictable and well balanced
  • Economy – very strong
  • Financial management – strong
  • Budgetary flexibility – average
  • Budgetary performance – strong
  • Liquidity – exceptional
  • Debt burden – very low
  • Contingent liabilities – very low

The City’s budgetary flexibility was rated average due to the impacts of provincially mandated service levels, labour contracts, inflation, challenges deferring capital spending due to aging infrastructure and infrastructure deficit.

Highlights from this most recent rating include:

  • The City operates in a predictable, well-balanced local and regional structure which lends to its stability.
  • Financial management is considered strong due to fiscal prudence, e.g. cost cutting where possible, including $12M from the City’s 2017 budget.
  • Exceptionally high internal liquidity levels complemented by healthy internal cash flow generation reflected in very high operating surpluses and satisfactory access to external liquidity for refinancing needs.
  • Strong budgetary performance; Hamilton has mild, yet steady, assessment growth.
  • Very low debt burden and interest costs are expected to remain very modest.
  • Contingent liabilities such as ownership of businesses, standard employee benefits and landfill post-closure liabilities are modest and do not present significant risks to the City’s debt burden or liquidity.