Get your pencils and calculators ready because it’s time for some hardcore accounting. In this special council meeting, which begins at a special time, Guelph City Council will review the approved 2023 budget, consider some of the potential changes and then reaffirm. At stake is the $508.6 million cost of running the City of Guelph, and there are a lot of considerations for council to sift through before they get to the final vote.
NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting in-person or via tele-presense but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on Friday January 20. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.
NOTE #2: In addition to meeting in-person, this meeting will also be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.
NOTE #3: This meeting will start at the special time of 9 am.
Non-Union Municipal Employee Group Compensation Increase 2023 – Since this is a matter of human resources, this subject will be discussed in-camera under Section 239(2) (d) of the Municipal Act relating to labour relations or employee negotiations.
2023 City Budget Confirmation – It used to be that the budget process took weeks, now we’ll do it all in one day! This year’s budget debate is essentially a confirmation of what was already approved in last year’s multi-year budget, which covered both 2022 and 2023. Having said that though, there are still some things to keep your eyes open for in terms of changes.
So the good news is that the updated budget cuts the 2023 tax levy from the 5.17 per cent approved last December, but the bad news is that it’s still pretty high at 4.96 per cent, and many of the things putting economic pressure on the City are out of council’s control. Some of those factors include inflation (obviously), the supply chain, a competitive labour market, recession talk, and new legislative pressure to grow faster.
In terms of specific impacts on the 2023 budget are in-year approvals by council, an expansion of resources for Paramedic Services, updated assessment growth revenue. Bill 23 also has some impacts, including the elimination of transfers to the Affordable Housing reserve since affordable housing projects are exempt from Development Charges, Parkland Dedication fees and Community Benefit Charges.
City staff have also made their dollars stretch with capital budget prioritization outcomes, and that includes phasing in the operating impacts for the South End Community Centre and the Baker District Redevelopment over an extra year. The original approved capital budget for 2023 was almost $162 million, but that’s been downgraded to just over $123 million now with an increased focus on infrastructure renewal and a little bit less of an emphasis on city building and growth-based projects. There are no debt issues planned for 2023 due, in part, to the increased cost in borrowing.
The biggest part of the 4.96 levy increase in 2023 is owed to the City who’s share is 2.97 per cent. An additional 0.28 is due to legislative changes and the leftover 1.71 per cent is from local boards and shared services, meaning the Guelph Police, Library, Public Health, the Elliott, the DGBA, Wellington County, and the Grand River Conservation Authority. Most of those groups have announced no change to their 2023 budget, but there have been some adjustments in the County’s social services budget because of increased funding to support initiatives that fight homelessness. Still, the entire commitment to the LBSS went down by one-tenth of a per cent from the approved 2023 budget.
Here’s the complete recommendation:
1. That the 2023 operating budget be readopted as amended at a gross expenditure budget of $508,599,380 with a 2023 property tax and payment-in-lieu of taxes levy requirement of $297,280,030 or 4.96 per cent over 2022 inclusive of the following:
a. City service budget requirement, net of the proportionate share of assessment growth, totalling an increased net levy requirement in 2023 of $9,083,317 or 3.25 per cent inclusive of the following:
i. Increase of $2,413,429 for in-year Council decisions related to Mayor and Council compensation, Property and Assessed Clean Energy Program, Municipal Accommodations Tax, Farmer’s Market transition to 10C and costs to implement Bill 109.
ii. Increase of $1,980,000 for new legislation requirements including increased capital transfers of $1,000,000 to fund preliminary impacts of Bill 23 and an increased benefit of $980,000 related to changing eligibility for the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
iii. Elimination of the $500,000 transfer to the Affordable Housing reserve in response to exemptions outlined in Bill 23.
iv. Reduction of $469,000 for phase-in of South End Community Centre and Baker District Redevelopment.
v. Increased funding of $1,255,830 through other revenues and grants associated with the Property and Assessed Clean Energy Program and Municipal Accommodations Tax.
vi. Additional assessment growth revenue of $594,831.
vii. Transfers from the Tourism Municipal Accommodation Tax reserve of $171,910 to support the Municipal Accommodations Tax program.
viii. Increased transfers from contingency reserves of $1,692,109.
b. Rates, fees and charges totalling an increased requirement of $2,517,346 or 2.73 per cent over 2022 inclusive of the following:
i. Increased investment of $600,000 to fund preliminary impacts of Bill 23 including a $300,000 transfer to the Water Capital reserve and a $300,000 transfer to the Wastewater Capital reserve.
ii. Increased transfers from rate-specific contingency reserves of $600,000.
c. Local Boards and Shared Services budget requirement, net of the proportionate share of assessment growth, totaling an increased net levy requirement and in 2023 of $4,792,488 or 1.71 per cent inclusive of the following:
i. Additional assessment growth revenue of $292,977.
d. Total transfers to/from Reserve and Reserve Funds in 2023 in accordance with the Reserve and Reserve Fund summary.
2. That the temporary pressures of inflation and increasing expenses resulting from supply chain challenges be offset by temporary operating surpluses experienced from tight labour markets and increased investment income, and that any shortfall be funded through the City’s Tax Rate Operating Contingency reserve in 2023.
3. That the 2024-2025 operating budget forecast and the 2026 inflationary budget forecast be received for information, with a full four-year multi-year budget planned for 2024-2027.
4. That the 2023 approved capital budget be amended with a net reduction of $38,751,650 resulting in the gross 2023 capital expenditure budget of $123,155,500 and the associated operating budget required upon completion of these projects totalling $1,182,700, be readopted inclusive of the following:
a. Funding transfers from capital reserve funds and other sources including partnerships and grants.
5. That the 2024-2031 capital forecast in the gross amount of $1,736,763,840, be received unchanged as presented in December 2021, with a full 10-year budget and forecast update to be prepared for the 2024-2027 multi-year budget.
6. That the Guelph General Hospital levy in the amount of $750,000 be budgeted for the third of six years as approved on December 3, 2019 and be funded from the Tax Rate Operating Contingency reserve.
7. That the Downtown Guelph Business Association 2023 budget with gross expenditures of $719,512, and a total levy of $679,800 be confirmed as presented on Dec 2, 2021.
Budget Impacts per Ontario Regulation 284-09 and Budget: Public Sector Accounting Standards Reconciliation 2023 – This recommendation needs to ratified by council every year. It is a report prepared for council that outlines the amortization of tangible capital assets, retirement benefit costs, and the post-closure costs for municipally-owned landfills.