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Bad debts and legal advice: Here's how the city spent your money in 2016

But annual municipal benchmark report isn't all bad: Nickel City among the best Canadian cities for solving violent crimes and placing people in social housing
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Stack of Canadian cash
The annual ranking of the service levels and costs for municipal services for 15 cities across Canada was released this week and with some exceptions, Greater Sudbury was at or near the average. (File)

The annual ranking of the service levels and costs for municipal services for 15 cities across Canada was released this week and with some exceptions, Greater Sudbury was at or near the average.

The rankings act as a benchmark for municipalities, judging how quickly and efficiently they offer services to residents. In addition to Greater Sudbury, the cities that take part include Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Durham, Halifax, Hamilton, London, Regina, Niagara Falls, Waterloo, Windsor, Winnipeg and York.

Read the full report here.

Some highlights (note all statistics are from 2016 data):

Greater Sudbury received a higher-than-average amount of freedom of information requests. The city received 173 FOI requests per 100,000 population, compared to the median for all the cities of 41. Each costs an average of $508 to process, compared to the median cost of $779. Calgary was the highest at $2,521, while Montreal was lowest at $157.

Sudbury was able to process 100 per cent of requests within the 30-day time limit, compared to the median of 86 per cent.

On the down side, Sudbury was second-last when it came to the amount spend supporting the arts, heritage and festivals. Sudbury spent $5.09 per capita on arts grants, compared to the median of $7.52. Thunder Bay, by comparison, spends $18.27.

On the social services side, efforts in recent years to reduce the time ambulances spend transferring patients have paid off. Ambulance spend just nine per cent of their time waiting for the transfers to complete, compared to the median of 19.8 per cent. Toronto had the highest rate (29.2 per cent). Thunder Bay had a rate of 20.2 per cent.

Sudbury led the group of cities in one dubious category: the percentage of bad debts they had to write off in comparison with the amount they billed. Sudbury's rate was 2.2 per cent in 2016, compared to the median of 0.1 per cent.

“The City of Greater Sudbury wrote-off large uncollectable receivables in 2016 which caused an uncharacteristically high result,” the report notes.

The city's website was the most popular of the group of cities, with 21.3 hits per capita compared to the median rate of 14.5.

Sudbury also had one of the highest costs for hiring outside legal firms. For every dollar spent on legal services by the city, 48 cents were spend on outside advice, compared to the median of 29 cents.
 
Taxi drivers in the city pay less for their plates and licences – $6,264 – compared to the median rate of $101,412. Sudbury was also on the lower end when it comes to parking revenue, earning $1,228 per space, compared to the median of $1,698.

Sudbury police are among the leaders in the group of cities when it comes to clearing cases involving violent crime. Police cleared 77 per cent of those cases, compared to the median of 60.7 per cent, and the national average of 61.8 per cent.

The city also has one of the better rates when it comes to helping people access social assistance. Sudbury had a rate of 2.8 days between the time someone applying for assistance and having the claim processed and meeting with a social worker. The median time was 7.3 days.

And 32.8 per cent of people on a wait list for social housing are placed within a year – the best rate among the cities — compared to the median of 13.8 per cent.

Enforcing animal control bylaws – which the city brought in-house last year – cost $475,144 per 100,000 residents, compared to the median cost of $555,513. But the city recovers less of its costs – 16 per cent – than any other city in the group that pays for animal control. The median was 36 per cent.



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