City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the November 18 Meeting?

This is the big one! We’ve been talking about the 2020 Budget for almost a month already, but the biggest, and most complicated, piece of the budget – the Tax Supported Operating Budget – has now been released, and it looks like it’s not going to provide city council with a lot of wiggle room.

Note: There will be no public delegations for this meeting. Delegations will be heard on the Operating Budget at the special meeting of council on November 27.

2020 Tax Supported Operating Budget – The overall increase for the year is 3.88 per cent, for a total budget of nearly $257 million. The biggest portion of that is a 2.02 per cent increase on the local boards and shared services budget, which will be covered in a separate post, and at a separate meeting.

On top of the nearly $5 million added to the budget from local boards, there’s just over $1.66 million more for the base operating budget, nearly $1 million from operational impacts from the 2019 capital budget, just over $408,000 from council decisions made in-year, over $4.26 million in capital financing, and over $533,000 for corporate programs in and department enhancements.

The total levy increase is actually 5.23 per cent, but with an expected 1.35 per cent growth in revenue from assessments, that brings the total increase down to 3.88 per cent.

Public Services – 36 per cent of the budget.

The year-over-year change for Public Services is 1.7 per cent, and this is were much of the operating impact of the 2019 Capital budget is (including the new buses purchased last year). There’s also a net decrease in disbursement recovery from the County of Wellington when it comes to emergency services because of the increase in call volume that is putting pressure on this budget. On the other hand, there are increased revenues from the closure of the Centennial Pool, increased utility recoveries from district energy at the Sleeman Centre, and an increase in revenue from the UPass at the University of Guelph (but Transit is projecting lower revenue growth on advertising).

Local Boards and Agencies – 33 per cent of the budget.

The fine details of this particular line item will be covered in a separate meeting on November 20, but it will cover the individual budgets of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, the Elliott Community, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, the Guelph Public Library, the Guelph Police Service, and the shared services between the City and the County of Wellington.

General Capital and Financing – 13 per cent of the budget.

This is the biggest bump from 2019 by 18.2 per cent, or $5.56 million. This has nothing to do with the Capital Budget, which is an entirely different portion of the annual budget process, but it does support a lot of that work. For instance, this money will go to collecting the proposed tax-supported levy that will fund city building, infrastructure, and the City’s 100 per cent Renewable efforts. This part of the budget will also collect funds for the Tax Increment Based Grant, as well as corporate licensing and network expenses. There will also be some one-time reserve transfers to cover the implementation of the Strategic Plan, Community Plan implementation, a Transit Route Review Specialist, and other programs and reviews.

Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise – 11 per cent of the budget.

IDE will seek a 1.3 per cent increase year-over-year. There will be an operating impact of $368,000 from the 2019 capital budget, plus an increase in compensation to the tune of $122,000. Some of these increases though will be offset by an increase in revenue for Environmental Services, plus blue box grant funding from the Government of Ontario.

CAO and Corporate Services – 7 per cent of the budget. 

The office of the Chief Administrative Officer will get a bump of $8,735 for one-time costs on implementing the Strategic Plan, but that will come from reserves. Corporate Services meanwhile is getting a 2.6 per cent increase because of a $28,000 impact from the 2019 Capital Budget, and the first full year of salaries for two new FTE (full time equivalent) positions approved last year. There’s also one-time increases for the council composition and employment status review, and HR digital system modernization plan, which is meant to help payroll.

Budget Requests.

Other items for council’s consideration include $352,600 to make the City’s yard waste collection program bi-weekly, $60,500 for more consistent service for medians, and $376,900 for four new FTEs for paramedic resources. There’s also the ask for renovation funds for Guelph General Hospital to consider.

Public delegations on this budget will be heard on November 27, and will be debated and approved at a meeting on December 3.

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