The next stage in the city's quest to start a lobbyist registry has been pushed back until September.
The initial timeline set out by the accountability and transparency subcommittee showed members voting on a draft bylaw on Thursday, and sending it to a general issues committee meeting this month.
But its members gave staff three more months to come up with a good draft, aiming to take it to council in the fall for implementation in 2014.
It's another delay in a process that's been ongoing since 2007. The registry will act as an account of which lobbyists have spoken to which councillors, allowing the public to see who is being lobbied.
The city needs to move on with an issue that's been dragging for years, said Coun. Judi Partridge of Flamborough. But she's not concerned about this delay.
It's required to come up with a draft bylaw to please the general issues committee, she said. Otherwise, councillors will send it back again, which could mean a delay of several more months.
"I really feel that we're zeroing in on what is going to work the best," she said. "I don't think the draft bylaw is even close. It needs to be refined.
"I still feel today was something we could think about, discuss and work with."
The city would spend an estimated $204,000 to $217,000 per year to maintain a registry, staff said in a report on Thursday.
That cost includes $92,000 per year for a policy analyst to work on the registry. It also includes one full-time information technology support position at a cost of $88,000.
It would also require one-time development costs of about $100,000, the report shows.
The subcommittee looked at Ottawa's lobbyist registry website, which has a searchable public database that includes the number of emails exchanged between lobbyists and councillors.
It also looked at the ingredients of a draft bylaw, including definitions and terms used by bylaws in Ottawa and Toronto.
The draft bylaw will now go to the general issues committee in "September or October," said city solicitor Janice Atwood-Petkovski. After that, the city will have a period of public consultation.
The original timeline had council giving final approval in May 2014 for implementation on Dec. 1.
Staff told subcommittee members that they are still on target as long as it is finished in time for spring budget deliberations.
Partridge isn't worried that they're running out of time.
"I want to make sure we do it right so it doesn't become an impediment," she said.
Committee members also discussed IT requirements for the registry. They also discussed whether the presence of a public registry would deter businesses and developers wanting to keep their projects under wraps from choosing Hamilton.
About 30 municipalities in Ontario have lobbyist registrars. If Hamilton implements one, it will be one of only three cities in the province to have an integrity commissioner, and auditor general and a lobbyist registrar.