LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for December 7, 2016

This is it! The #GuelphBudget for 2017 comes down to the decisions that council makes today starting at 2 pm. You can click here for the amended agenda from City Hall, and you can click here to read Politico’s preview of tonight’s meeting. For the complete blow-by-blow of tonight’s council meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.

Guelph City Council Meeting – December 7, 2016

Live blog from the meeting starting at 2 pm

  1. Brad Breedon here covering the 2017 #GuelphBudget meeting today. Beginning with opening remarks from mayor Cam Guthrie.
  2. Disclosure of Pecuniary interests: Cllr MacKinnon disclosing his involvement in cafes downtown and how it may affect his decision making.
  3. James Krauter, acting Treasruer is giving us a quick summary of how the budget process has culminated in today’s final budget meeting.
  4. Mr. Krauter is going over the 9 recommendations made to council to approve which can be found below: #GuelphBudget

    Mr. Krauter is going over the 9 recommendations made to council to approve which can be found below: #GuelphBudget
  5. Cllr Bell, seconded by Hofland have tabled recommendation #1: here we go!
  6. Clr Bell has moved to amend diverting 350k from an 800k plan to purchase parking meters for next year. Problem: its hard to buy half a meter
  7. Cllr Hofland:” I don’t see the value in splitting the investment… We need to see the metrics first” #GuelphBudget
  8. Councillor Bell’s amendment on the parking meter investment was defeated: technical difficulties on who voted what #GuelphBudget
  9. Vote on parking investment passes: only opp. is from Bell, and Cllr Allt is who is away donating a kidney to his brother. We wish him well!
  10. Debate over investing further 694k into development of the south end rec centre. Cllr MacKinnon: “invest, or kill it.” #GuelphBudget
  11. Cllr Gibson: “let’s not make a promise to the community to build this rec centre because federal money is coming…building this is on us”
  12. Vote called on investment of 684k for design on the south-end rec centre: only opposed by Cllr: Bell (and absentee Allt) #GuelphBudget
  13. Note: the amount proposed was 684k, not 694k. Wrong key pressed in all the excitement!
  14. Moving on to the 2nd rec: Tax supported capital forecast approval of 2018-2026 in the amount of 799 million #GuelphBudget
  15. It passes! Guthrie skips on rec. 3 and goes to rec .4. Cllr: Gordon asks how this will impact Guelph, but it would have to be closed session
  16. Vote to go closed session is defeated 5-7, vote on rec. 4 goes on. Passes with all but Cllr. Gibson’s vote #GuelphBudget
  17. Motion to reduce Cllr salary by the amount that Cllr’s receive from outside agencies/boards to return salary money back to the city.
  18. Cllr Hofland: This motion only affects 6 Councillors, with only 2 of the Councillors receiving 60% of the money remunerated (17k)
  19. Mayor Guthrie is taking issue with “cutting the fat” and “politicians lining their pockets”; states that “I do not need a motion to do so”.
  20. Vote passes on reduction of salary pay if there is ultra-council enumeration: Bell, MacKinnon, Van Hellemond oppose.
  21. Cllr Downer: motion to have 40k added to the waste-line pickup budget for weekend pick-up downtown.
  22. Cllr MacKinnon: motion to increase accessibility to view city council meetings online for 20k, seconded by Bell.
  23. Guthrie is skeptical about the need for live access to council meetings: 20k annual increase justified? “I haven’t received one phone call”
  24. Vote for 20k increase to budget to live stream council fails: Cllr: MacKinnon shakes his fist!
  25. Voting on hiring of 4 new paramedics passes unanimously. Development Engineer hiring is also passed, opposed by Hofland, Gordon.
  26. Hiring of Corporate Analyst and AMANDA application analyst both fail: mobility specialist passes at #GuelphBudget
  27. Cllr Hofland: motion that transit service for Boxing Day and July 1st be implemented instead of being “stat” holidays: would cost 23k.
  28. Cllr. Van Hellemond: would like to amend to add the August civic holiday as well to bus service increase.
  29. Amendment passes with only Wettstein opposing. #GuelphBudget NOw all 3 dates are up for vote.
  30. Boxing Day & Aug civic holiday services pass, July 1st is defeated. For clarity, there is service these days, only at 1 hour (now at 30 min)
  31. Quick break to stretch your legs and order pizza, #GuelphBudget will be back in session in a few minutes.
  32. And we’re back! Cllr. Wettstein motions to remove 100k from Affordable Housing 2017 operating budget , seconded by MacKinnon.
  33. With a vote of 5-7, that is defeated! Cllr Gibson wants to move 82k from social services to Affordable Housing, seconded by Bell.
  34. Cllr Hofland: uncomfortable taking money out of local brd budgets. James Krauter crunches the numbers on where it comes from: contingency $
  35. Krauter advises that the money be left alone *as* a contingency tho. Wettstein argues that Gibson wants the money to be used in other areas
  36. Cllr Gibson: wants it to go somewhere, if this motion fails (social services to affordable housing), put it back into infrastructure fund.
  37. With 5-7, Cllr Gibson’s motion is defeated. Piper, Bell, Downer and Guthrie were in his corner but not enough to pass #GuelphBudget
  38. Cllr Salisbury motions that May-August transit service levels be restored to the 2015 rates at the cost of a cool 884k
  39. Cllr Salisbury is not impressed that he’s learning of new information 3 hours into a budget meeting, taking Guthrie to task.
  40. Cllr Wettstein is doing wonders defusing the tension in the chambers. MacKinnon doesn’t want to spend money the city doesn’t have yet.
  41. And we’re back after dinner. Cllr Salisbury is continuing with his motion to restore summer transit levels to 2015 rates
  42. Cllr Hofland making an impassioned plea to restore transit rates to their 2015 schedules. Billings is skeptical if the “helper buses” helped
  43. Clr Gordon: although he likes the idea of revisiting transit schedules, transit disruption demands a fix *now*. Plans to vote on restoration
  44. Increased summer rates has been defeated: Downer, Gordon, Hofland, Piper and Salisbury pushed but couldn’t find the numbers #GuelphBudget
  45. Motion by Cllr Gibson to raise rates by 25 cents to help supplement costs of service during May/June months. Hofland admonishes “that’s 20%”
  46. Cllr Gibson motions to decrease annually allocated training budget by 600$ per Councillor to try and save some taxpayer money.
  47. Cllr Gordon throws a jab at Gibson: “I’m not as smart as you, because I go to conferences and other summits to enrich my learning”
  48. That fails! Councillors are taking turns now cutting their training expenses. Billings, Gibson, Bell taking an axe to their training budget.
  49. Cam Guthrie wants to put $5000 towards an event like the Tragically Hip concert that happened last summer. All but Cllr Hofland support it
  50. Quick break while the staff does some number crunching at the #GuelphBudget meeting.
  51. The 2017 Tax Supported Operating Budget (even with the additions & amendments made throughout the evening) comes out to a rate of +2.13%
  52. Rather, it is $222,887,077 for the 2017 year. Includes contracts, salaries, and new projects #GuelphBudget
  53. Vote is unanimously passed! Moving back to recommendation 3.
  54. Vote on user fees is also passed unanimously. Moving along onto recommendation 6.
  55. Cllr Gibson, seconded by Bell, motions to amend #6 and move 400k from public health to infrastructure. It passes #GuelphBudget
  56. Cllr Piper has a problem with moving the money since it is a one-time payment whereas infrastructure is concerned with long-term planning.
  57. Motion for the City of Guelph to contribute 750k from Public Health payment from Feds to infrastructure renewal fund in Q1 in 2017.
  58. Note: the money from Public Health was voted and approved upon less than an hour ago. It’s a Christmas miracle! #GuelphBudget
  59. With all but the support of Salisbury, Gordon and Hofland, the transfer passes!
  60. Quick follow-up: Councillor Allt is out of surgery and is recovering. Jokes in the chamber that he’s watching Council from his bedside.
  61. In quick succession, recommendations 6 and 7 are passed without any further deliberation. Moving on to recommendation 8
  62. Cllr Wettstein makes an amendment to rec. 8: a 1% increase to the dedicated infrastructure renewal levy. Seconded by MacKinnon.
  63. Cllr Bell: if this motion passes, what would be the net tax increase? James Krauter comes back with the numbers: 2.13%+1 = +3.13% tax levy
  64. Cllr Hofland: “I believe it’s important to invest in our cities infrastructure….it is the number 1 concern among all the municipalities”
  65. Cllr Gibson has an issue with increasing the tax levy by 1%: “it is eroding the consensus of council” #GuelphBudget
  66. Cllr Gordon: “we have been pushing off this problem for a generation…there is an appetite to address this problem.” #GuelphBudget
  67. Cllr MacKinnon addresses his flip-flopping on the tax levy; he would have it higher, he’s just trying to build consensus.
  68. It should be noted, the next rec. is to continue this levy for the next ten years. Cllr MacKinnon doesn’t want to keep revisiting this issue
  69. James Krauter is going to put the tax levy into tangibles: $5.30 a year/100k assessment for the 0.5% tax levy.
  70. Guthrie: “I have to tell the truth..we have a 191 million dollar problem. There is a consensus among the citizens that we have this problem”
  71. Mayor Guthrie making an impassioned speech on the 1% tax levy increase: “Be brave…because it pays off.” #GuelphBudget
  72. Cllr Gibson tried to reopen the issue of the tax levy funding through recommendation 6, but couldn’t find any support in the chamber
  73. The vote, as amended, passes 9-3. The same Councillors holding out against the amendment (Bell, Billings, Gibson) still opposed.
  74. The final list item of the night: to endorse the 1% tax levy, to be reviewed annually based on need/appropriateness for the next 10 years.
  75. The 1% infrastructure renewal tax levy, to be continued for the next 10 years (under annual subject review) passes #GuelphBudget
  76. With a vote of 7-5 with Bell, Billings, Gibson, Guthrie, & Van Hellemond opposed. To be reviewed every year passes with all but Bell’s vote
  77. Bell adjourning seconded by Van Hellemond; thats all folks! Thanks for tuning in tonight for #GuelphBudget. This is Brad Breedon signing off


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