City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the December 2 Meeting?

This is the moment council’s either been waiting for or dreading depending on their priorities. December begins with the final decision for the 2022-2023 Guelph budget, the first multiyear budget and the last budget before the next election. There’s a lot of hard work ahead, and it’s probably going to be a long meeting for council as they try to add everything up. Here’s what they’re up against…

NOTE #1: There are no delegations at this meeting.

NOTE #2: The meeting will be closed to the public, though it will be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.

CLOSED MEETING:

2022 Non-union Municipal Employee Compensation Increase – Because this is a matter of staff compensation and employment status, it has to be discussed in-camera. It’s unknown if there will be any further financial impact on the budget.

Budget Impacts per Ontario Regulations 284/09 and Budget: Public Sector Accounting Standards Reconciliation 2022 – This is a financial statement that comes with every year’s budget, and it’s required by Public Sector Accounting Standards (PSAS). There is no added financial impact from this report, it’s just a matter of separate financial reporting that’s required for three areas: amortization of tangible capital assets, post-employment benefit costs and landfill post-closure costs.

2022 and 2023 City Budget – December 2 is decision day for city council when it comes to the 2022 and 2023 budget. Staff have made their case, the public have made theirs, and the time has come for the 13 members of city council to make the hard decisions. This is the recommendation that was referred to this meeting on November 16:

1. That the 2022/23 operating budget be approved at a gross expenditure budget of $481,067,796 and $500,734,742 with a 2022 property tax and payment-in-lieu of taxes levy requirement of $277,380,693 or 3.64 per cent over 2021 and a 2023 property tax and payment-in-lieu of taxes levy requirement of $293,153,601 or 4.69 per cent over 2022 inclusive of the following:

a. 2022-23 fees, rates and charges, and inclusive of:

i. A stormwater base charge of $7.00 per month equivalent residential unit or 9.37 per cent increase over 2021 and $7.60 per month equivalent residential unit or 8.57 per cent increase over 2022.

ii. A water and wastewater basic service charge for each of 2022 and 2023 equivalent to 2021 rates.

iii. A water volume charge of $1.87 per cubic meter, or 2.75 per cent increase over 2021 and $1.95 per cubic meter, or 4.28 per cent increase over 2022.

iv. A wastewater volume charge of $1.99 per cubic meter or 2.58 per cent increase over 2021 and $2.05 per cubic meter or 3.02 per cent increase over 2022.

b. City service budget requirement, net of proportionate share of assessment growth, totaling an increased net levy requirement in 2022 of $5,570,312 or 2.10 per cent, and in 2023 of $7,905,919 or 2.85 per cent.

c. Local Boards and Shared Services budget requirement, net of proportionate share of assessment growth, totaling an increased net levy requirement in 2022 of $4,066,841 or 1.53 per cent, and in 2023 of $5,093,182 or 1.84 per cent.

d. Total transfers to/from Reserve and Reserve Funds in each of 2022 and 2023 in accordance with the reserve and reserve fund summary.

e. No additional investment beyond base funding available for the Strategic City Building Investment Summary items.

2. That the Guelph General Hospital levy in the amount of $750,000 be budgeted for the second of six years as approved on December 3, 2019, resulting in a net levy increase of 0.29 per cent.

3. That the 2024–2025 operating budget forecast be received for information.

4. That the 2022-2023 Capital Budget in the gross expenditure amount of $141,423,650 and $161,907,150 respectively and the required operating budget resulting from these projects totaling $2,099,910 and $919,340 respectively be approved, inclusive of the following:

a. Funding transfers from capital reserve funds and other sources including partnerships and grants in each of 2022 and 2023.

b. Available city building reserve funding will be applied to capital projects in prioritized order as listed in the Strategic City Building Investment Summary.

5. That the 2024-2031 Capital Forecast in the gross amount of $1,736,763,840, be received for information with the following implications:

a. Operating budget impact from this forecast totaling $8,417,210.

b. A City Building Reserve Fund will reach a deficit position of $34.2 million by 2031.

c. A 100RE Reserve Fund deficit position of $15.6 million by 2031.

d. A debt forecast that leverages the City’s available capacity in the eight-year period.

6. That the Downtown Guelph Business Association 2022 and 2023 budget with gross expenditures of $699,252 and $719,512 respectively, and a total levy of $660,000 and $679,800 respectively be approved.

7. That the Health Care Spending (Fire) Reserve (#103), the Evergreen Donation Bequest Reserve Fund (#134) and the Community Paramedicine Reserve Fund (#348) be created, and that the name of Federal Gas Tax Reserve Fund be updated to the Canada Community-Building Reserve Fund (#343) and Appendix A of the Reserve and Reserve Fund Policy be amended accordingly.

Things to watch out for:

*Will council approve the some $175,000 that the Guelph Library is asking for to cancel late fees?

*How many of the requests from community groups will be approved? There’s the additional money for the increased Community Benefit Agreement amount for the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition and the Guelph Humane Society, the People and Information Network (PIN) request for the City to continue to pay for the volunteer police checks, and the continuing funding for Welcoming Streets and the Court Support Worker.

*Will the council choose to pause or delay one of the major infrastructure projects currently underway like the Baker redevelopment, the South End Community Centre, and the Operations campus?

*How much can council dip into reserves again? How much should they dip?

*How much can council cut from the total levy of 3.93 per cent for 2022, and is it more of a matter of trying to prevent the levy from going up past four per cent than trying to get it under three?

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