City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the November 20 Meeting?

The final presentation for the 2020 Budget features a lot of the local services that people engage with daily in Guelph, including the police, the library, and the local public health unit.

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.

Presentation of Local Boards and Shared Services Budgets – One-third of the total Tax-Supported Operating goes to just these six agencies:

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health – As you may have heard, there’s been a significant decrease in funding from the Provincial government for local health units, and while the WDGPH has made every effort to mitigate the impact, it still means an increase of almost $79,000 for Guelph’s share to Public Health in 2020. (On the bright side, that’s only slightly more than last year’s increase, which was just over $77,000 from 2018.) The big difference is that while there were a significant number of programs at the health unit that were 100 per cent funded by the Province, now only a fraction of them are full-funded. In all, WDGPH has lost 4.6 per cent of funding from the Ministry of Health.

The Elliott Community – Guelph’s long-term care facility is looking for an increase of 1.73 per cent this year, which brings their funding request to nearly $1.51 million for 2020. Due to Provincial funding cuts, the Elliott is postponing $667,440 in capital projects, but they are asking for a one-time funding request from City reserves to install cameras, speakers, and cables in the hallways, at the exits, at the elevators, and around the exterior of the building. A resident at the Elliott went missing for two-and-a-half hours in September, and the cameras are needed for safety.

County of Wellington Shared Social Services – The City of Guelph shares costs for services administered by the County of Wellington in three areas: childcare, Ontario Works, and housing. For childcare there have been changes to the cost sharing formula, and the expectation is that there will be no spending increases from the Province for the next three years. In Works, Provincial funding has been frozen, but an expected three per cent increase in OW income and shelter benefits will be fully funded by the Ontario government. In housing, money has come in to develop more affordable units through Federal-Provincial funding increases, and there’s been a reduction in debenture payments on the County’s social housing units. The total budget for 2020 is $22,551,317, which is two per cent, or $442,000, more than 2019.

Downtown Guelph Business Association – The proposed levy for 2020 for the DGBA is an increase of 4.76 per cent, or $30,000 over 2019. About half this increase is because the total amount for expenditures has gone up, and the other half is to make up for lost revenues from other areas.

Guelph Public Library – Another successful year at the Library means a request for an additional $259,150, or 2.77 per cent for 2020, which brings the Library budget up to $9.62 million. The increase is more-or-less the cost of inflation for the year with slight increases in salaries, purchased goods, and purchased services. It’s money well spent because the Library says it had an increase of 7.5 per cent in daily visitors in the last year.

Guelph Police Services – The Guelph Police will make a case for an increase in their budget by a factor of 10 per cent, blaming the situation on an increase in Guelph’s population, the increasing crime rate, and a decline in Guelph’s safety ranking from first place in 2011 to 16th in 2018. Medical leave is increasing, and so it overtime, so the budget proposes 17 new police officers, including eight neighbourhood patrol officers, two traffic officers, and three identification officers (think CSI). The GPS is also identifying a need to hire 13.5 more civilian positions too, including eight communications positions, a wellness co-ordinator, and a media relations co-ordinator. The budget estimate for 2020 is $46.14 million.

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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