LIVE BLOG: City Council Meeting for November 15, 2017

This afternoon, the final piece of the budget puzzle for 2018 will be moved into place with the local boards and shared services budget. You can click here for the agenda from City Hall, and you can click here for the Politico preview. For the complete blow-by-blow of tonight’s council meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.

 

#GuelphBudget Meeting – November 15, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 2 pm

  1. This week's #GuelphBudget meeting is about to begin. Follow leave here for developments as we discuss the shared services and local boards budget. https://t.co/81Dlge28EB https://t.co/brgsxqXLh7

    This week’s #GuelphBudget meeting is about to begin. Follow leave here for developments as we discuss the shared services and local boards budget.  https://guelphpolitico.blogspot.ca/2017/11/city-council-preview-whats-on-agenda_5.html  pic.twitter.com/brgsxqXLh7
  2. Mayor Guthrie is calling the meeting to order now.
  3. No Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and General Nature Thereof, so straight to opening remarks from Tara Baker.
  4. So on to the first presentation from Steve Kraft, CEO of @GuelphLibrary
  5. Kraft begins with a big thank you to the Mayor for doing what he can to bring the new library forward. Guthrie says it’s a team effort.
  6. A smart library means a smarter community. The library contributes to the mental wellbeing of the community, Kraft implies. They’re also building partnerships.
  7. Library had almost 7,900 new members last year. Almost 3,400 daily visitors, and 2.315 borrowed items annually and rising.
  8. Do you hate reading? Well, you can watch this meeting on the City of Guelph You Tube page as well:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-Cpfn6lVv4 
  9. Reminder: the Library is 3.9% of the total tax-supported budget. This year, they’re looking for a 3.81% increase, or just over $336K more over 2017.
  10. Most of the Library budget is eaten up by salaries and benefits. In addition, there’s an increase for a 1-year contract position for a full-time security guard at the main branch downtown. Apparently, there are security concerns.
  11. About 1/3 of the staff at the library is paid minimum wage. They’re high school students working part-time. This in response to Allt’s Q about the impact of min. wage hike on the Library.
  12. Allt also asks for further clarity on security guard. Kraft notes it’s an older facility without safe zones in case of emergency. Incidents 2 or 3 times a day, and open 9am-9pm.
  13. Incidents at the library have included an instance of someone smashing a computer. There’s a sliding scale of action including the calling of emergency services and banning an offender for a day to 6 months or even for life.
  14. Kraft says he’s feeling good about where the library’s services are at. Growth is within line with Guelph’s own growth.
  15. That’s a wrap for the library, next up is @WDGPublicHealth with Shanna O’Dwyer, manager of finance.
  16. Exact numbers are unavailable due to ongoing union negotiations, so this budget presentation is rather broad. City spending on WDGPH represents 1.7% of the total budget.
  17. Over half the budget for WDGPH comes from the provincial government. the City of Guelph pays 15% with the rest coming from Dufferin, and Wellington Counties, plus other sources.
  18. O’Dwyer reviewing recent committee report on how funding is determined per partner for Public Health. Will now use Stats Can and census data as it is the more accurate.
  19. Funding approval was confirmed at 12:45 pm today, Public Health still needs time to analyze the numbers.
  20. Cllr Wettstein asks about the increase in services w/o increase in funding for the province. Who pays for that? Answer: Who do you think?
  21. Now we’re on to @WilliamsMarty with the presentation of the @DowntownGuelph Business Association budget.
  22. Williams going over success from the last year: electric car show, music weekends, Petrie building restoration, etc.
  23. Williams also congratulates council for the approval of the Wilson St parkade. A big development that was very much needed.
  24. DGBA is asking for slight increase of $118K, mostly for revitalization but also with some increases in marketing and promotion, as well as payroll. Not adding any new positions or staff next year.
  25. btw: The Santa Clause parade is this Sunday. Forecast calls for snow.
  26. On garbage, Williams says that the 6-day per week collection system works, “but its ugly”.
  27. Salisbury asks about bins downtown. Are they for general use, or are they for shop owners? Plus are those bins collected with the regular trucks?
  28. Two bins, one truck. And yes, they’re for general use, but businesses can have their own bins too.
  29. Guthrie says the issue of garbage comes up at every meeting between the City and DGBA, but answers will not be coming until the service review of Solid Waste is complete.
  30. Now on to the Guelph Police Services Board with chair Don Drone. Pleased to say that agreements side within all employee groups extend though 2018.
  31. Drone notes that there’s been a lot of retirements this year. Hopes to enable a culture of inclusion in this community.
  32. Now @ChiefDeRuyter is taking over to start the actual presentation of the police budget.
  33. DeRuyter says the pressures on policing include city growth, increased traffic volume, community issues, and the “complexity of crimes.” Also, they’ve seen a “significant number” of retirees the last few years.
  34. 19% increase in property crime the last few years, it’s becoming a real problem in the city as the clearance rate on this cases is also down by roughly the same percentage.
  35. Police is looking at a 3.01% increase over 2017. Again, mostly for salary and compensation. There’s also utility and vehicle costs, strategic initiatives, and 4 new FTEs to address growth.
  36. Reminder, the Police represents the 2nd biggest piece of the operating budget after municipal services at 17.2%.
  37. There are also expansion requests for frontline officers, Health IM, a website redesign, and new communications tech.
  38. Allt has one question: the impact of the PTSD legislation. DeRuyter says there have been an increasing number of claims to WSIB, and there’s been a noticeable effect on the officers. Overtime budget too has increased. Need to make sure staffing levels appropriate.
  39. Cllr Billings asks about the new FTEs, will this help community concerns about traffic? DeRuyter says that hopefully this will address some of those concerns as police are trying to answer as many calls as possible as soon as possible.
  40. Billings asks about increase in costs for Homecoming, and, looking ahead, St Patrick’s Day. DeRuyter says there always increased costs on those days, no agreement with U of G on how to address budget effects, but it’s an ongoing conversation.
  41. Cllr Gordon asks if GPS has the same definition of “downtown” as the DGBA? DeRuyter says that the goal is to have officers dedicated to the greater downtown area. They’re not DT officers per se either.
  42. Gordon notes that there’s residential concerns along with paths and trails into downtown, how might those concerns be addressed? DeRuyter says they realize DT is changing and there will be an increase in the various types of patrols on foot, by bike, and by cruiser.
  43. DeRuyter says they’re involved with a number of strategies to a changing downtown, but it’s a problem bigger than just the Police department.
  44. Salisbury asks for a constituent if the hiring of security at city hall is a failure of policing? DeRuyter says that there are a lot of things going on that should have police attendance, but can’t speak to responsibility of facilities to do what they have to for their staff.
  45. Cllr Gibson follows up saying that the data shows we have a safe community, but people don’t feel as safe as they once did downtown. In other words, proactive policing is important.
  46. Downer notes that the $20K in overtime didn’t seem to be enough to police Homecoming. Does the Chief have a figure on what this might have costed to police this event well? DeRuyter says he doesn’t have the number now, but looking to develop that in time for planning St Patty Day
  47. The last presentation for today (?) the Elliott Community. Apparently, an emergency has arisen and the County of Wellington will not present today Guthrie tells council to refer all Qs about county budget to the message board.
  48. Good news for the Elliot, they’re looking at on operating surplus for next year. A huge swing from years of deficits in the 100s of thousands.
  49. Allt notes that the change of expenses due to increasing the amortization period is a one time deal, right? Mark Coburn says this will offset deficits for the foreseeable future. The building was meant to be paid off in 5 years.
  50. Salisbury asks if the Elliott is planning on addressing the growing need for seniors residence giving the generational shift? There are discussions, some PT staff being brought on to help with retirement community.
  51. That’s a wrap for the Elliott. Guthrie asks for questions of clarity, or if there’s question of staff.
  52. Billings asks Treasurer Tara Baker for clarity on clause #2. https://t.co/n5KEI5cHfZ

    Billings asks Treasurer Tara Baker for clarity on clause #2. pic.twitter.com/n5KEI5cHfZ
  53. Thru legislation, County secured that properties it owns are tax exempt. It results in savings of $130K, which is being suggested to be place in reserves to cut off any future deficits.
  54. Both recommendations moves by Billings/Hofland.
    Passes 13-0.
  55. And that’s the meeting adjourned. Next #GuelphBudget meeting is next Wednesday and that’s the public delegations portion. If you want to talk, you got till this Friday at 10 am to tell the clerk.
  56. To get in touch with the clerk’s office, you can call them at 519-837-5603 or TTY 519-826-9771, or email them at clerks@guelph.ca.

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