City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the January 10 Meeting?

Work on the 2019 Guelph Budget begins in the second week of the new year.

CLOSED MEETING: CS-2019-28 2019 Non-Union Compensation Increase

CS-2019-01 2019 Non-Tax Supported Operating Budget – Step number one for the 2019 budget process is hearing the presentation and delegations on the Non-Tax Supported Operating Budget, functionings at city hall that are not paid for with tax dollars, but their own separate fee structures.

Looking at Stormwater Rate fees, staff is recommending a 60-cent increase for 2019 beginning on March 1 from $4.60 to $5.20. The impact will be a $6 or 10.87 per cent increase for the average household, making the annual bill for 2019 $61.20. As to where this leaves Guelph in terms of affordability, only Newmarket has a cheaper Stormwater rate when looking at comparator municipalities; cities like Mississauga, St. Thomas, Waterloo, London, and Kitchener are all charging over $100 annually according to the staff report.

In other water budgets, Water Services will be carrying over their 2018 rates into 2019, but Wastewater Services is projecting an increase cost of 0.7 per cent. For the average three-person home, that means an annual increase of $6 to $858.50 for 2019, with the new rates coming into effect on March 1. The City touts that Guelph’s Wastewater costs rank 17th out of 26 comparator municipalities, and this even though Guelph exclusively relies on ground water, which is typically more expensive to manage.

The other two areas covered in this budget are Ontario Building Code (OBC) Administration and Court Services.

Building Services will require a budget increase of 0.83 per cent for 2019. The funding for this department, and the enforcement of the OBC, comes entirely from revenues from building fee permits, and the change to fees for building permits will not be looked at by council until May. If past years are any indication though, expect for a cost increase of between two and three per cent for permits later this year, and in the meantime, there’s a proposed $195,000 transfer from the Building Services OBC Administration Stabilization Fund.

Over in Court Services, cost savings were realized in the realignment of new Legal, Realty, and Court Services department, but they’ll still need a 0.43 per cent increase in the budget. Court Services will also be adding $441,300 to the Courts Capital Reserve Fund.

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