City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the July 27 Meeting?

A workshop, that’s what! Guelph city council tries to get its multiyear budgeting process back on track with a presentation about the framework and options for a multiyear budgeting plan, and how all this ties back to the Strategic Plan and the City’s long-term financial vision.

Multi-Year Budget and Future Ready Action Plans – The meeting will will follow the agenda follows:

*A new way of operating
*Financial framework and multi-year budget
*Agile performance framework and measures of success
*Financial implications of the Action Plan

The first two sections will be 15 minutes long each, and the third and forth segments will be 45 minutes each and followed by a five-wrap up where the next phase will be discussed.

First, the plan for multiyear budgeting will be introduced by looking at what the City is facing in the short-term and long-term futures, from COVID-19 to Places to Grow. In terms of the pandemic, the staff report notes that it’s important to have in place a strategy that’s able to adapt to “frequent, dynamic, and unexpected changes,” and “foster and maintain a culture of agility and innovation.”

So how will this work? While the current budget debate covers four different areas – non-tax supported operating budget, operating budget, local board and shared services budget, and the capital budget – the new system will be organized along the goals and priorities of the Strategic Plan. An example is “Sustaining the Future”, which would cover the operating and capital costs for Water, Stormwater, and Wastewater Services. This new way of doing the budget means council will only have half the number of budget meetings per year, down from the usual seven or eight.

The multiyear budgeting will also be designed to give council more specific ideas about the long-term budget impacts. For example, you can spend millions of dollars to build a new main library, but there are thousands of dollars in new annual operating costs to consider as well.

Of course, throwing some wrinkles into those plans is the pandemic. There are new capital priorities, and new ongoing costs related to cleaning and personal protective equipment (PPE). There’s also that anticipated $4 million deficit as a result of the loss revenue, and that extra spending because of COVID-19.

Council will be taken through how the multiyear budgeting process works, the advantages over the current annual method, and what benchmarks will determine success or failure when it comes to how the budget measures against the goals set in the Strategic Plan. All questions will be answered, and the public will get a better sense of how the future financial decisions of the administration will be made.

The next steps are the approval of the Future Ready Action Plan in September, and the presentation of the multiyear budget starting November 17.

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