2014 budget advances a dynamic and prosperous Guelph

City Council approves 2.38 per cent tax increase over last year

Guelph, ON, December 5, 2013 – Earlier this evening, Guelph City Council approved a $193.3 million operating budget and a $79.4 million capital budget for next year. This represents a 2.38 per cent tax increase over last year; an average increase of $78 per household based on a home valued at $311,136. Combined with changes to Guelph’s water and wastewater rates, the impact on an average household is roughly $105 in 2014.

“This budget provides value for taxpayers – it continues our approach of doing more with what we have,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “It continues to close the gap between tax rate increases and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) while protecting services, maintaining infrastructure and building our capacity to deliver increased performance and productivity.”

“This budget demonstrates the City’s commitment to serving our community and delivering public service better,” says Ann Pappert, Guelph’s chief administrative officer. “This budget positions us to continue to build a well-designed, safe, inclusive and appealing city for all to enjoy. It allows us to sustain our local competitive edge. Our focus on excellence, performance and continuous improvement continues as we, modernize and strengthen our local government to serve the current and future needs of the community we serve.”

“This year’s budget is another example of how Guelph’s strong financial position, responsible fiscal policies and continued focus on cost avoidance and system optimization are serving us well today, preparing us for future growth, and setting the stage for continued prosperity,” said Al Horsman, Guelph’s chief financial officer.

The 2014 budget balances affordability and predictability with excellent service and value for taxpayers. Rather than introducing a number of new initiatives, the 2014 Operating Budget allows the City to continue delivering on important work already underway including: offering an affordable bus pass for low-income residents; using technology to modernize and improve City services; making it easier for the business community to work with the City on planning and development matters; freeing up and focusing existing resources, using them to their maximum potential; and increasing the size and health of Guelph’s urban forest.

During the meeting Council also approved operating and capital budgets for all Local Boards and Shared Services—Guelph Police Services, Guelph Public Library, Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health and the Downtown Business Association—which consume about 37 per cent of city tax revenues.

On November 5, City Council approved non-tax-supported operating and capital budgets for Guelph’s Water and Wastewater Services, Ontario Building Code Administration and Provincial Offences Court Administration.

2014 Budget Highlights

  • Council approved adding $20.4 million to the Guelph Police Services (GPS) Headquarters project for a total cost of $34 million. The funding is conditional upon the approval of a business case showing the highest possible community benefit and return on the City’s investment.
  • The City will fund its $11.9 million share of the new public health facility being built by Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health.
  • Over the next two years, the City will complete $7.2 million upgrades to the Victoria Road Recreation Centre to meet accessibility requirements and accommodate growth.
  • Council approved $210,000 investment to reduce speed limits near school zones.
  • Council approved $169,400 to proceed with short-term, high-priority initiatives designed to improve the development review process as part of the Integrated Operational Review of Planning, Building, Engineering and Enterprise Services.
  • A new Development Planner position funded at $110,600 will improve service to the business community by making it easier for the City to respond to development applications.
  • A three-year contract for an Enterprise Development Officer at $93,700 will enhance the City’s ability to attract investment, facilitate downtown development and enable redevelopment of complex sites including brownfields, the Guelph Innovation District, and nodes in the east and south end of the city.
  • To continue modernizing City services as part of the Corporate Technology Strategic Plan, Council approved $130,300 for a full-time Corporate Application Analyst.
  • A full-time Corporate Health and Safety Program Coordinator will reduce the City’s use of external legal resources, and mitigate or avoid costs associated with Worker Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) claims. The $98,500 position will be funded from the WSIB Reserve and reduce expenses in the City’s operating budget.
  • The City will hire a Program Manager to establish a standardized system of program management and provide training to key staff. The $119,400 three-year contract position will be funded within the administrative overhead budget for capital projects.
  • To drive service optimization, gain cost savings and increase productivity, Council approved $92,100 for a Business Process Improvement Specialist, with the expectation that the position would find at least $46,000 in savings in 2014.
  • The City will add a Committee Coordinator funded at $86,000 to support the growing number of active standing committees, and respond to the increasing volume and complexity of responsibilities in the City’s Clerk’s Office.
  • Council approved hiring two full-time Fleet Mechanics at $79,750 each to increase capacity, and perform fleet maintenance and meet requirements of Guelph’s Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration (CVOR). The impact on the budget would be offset by $40,000 in cost reductions in the Public Works department next year.
  • To continue implementing the Council-approved Urban Forest Management Plan, the City will hire a forestry technician and a part-time Geographic Information System (GIS) technician at $150,600.
  • Council voted to restore horticulture plantings to 2012 levels at a cost of $50,000 to hire part-time staff.
  • Council approved a contribution of $25,000 to the City’s Community Investment Strategy in support of local not-for-profit organizations and community groups
  • A Timekeeping Review is expected to streamline Guelph’s payroll administration system, free up and refocus existing administrative resources, and reduce software licensing costs.
  • Most recreation fees will increase by about three per cent, and Council approved a new surcharge for recreation facility rentals; commercial users would pay 10 per cent more than non-profit organizations, increasing City revenue by $15,000.
  • Monthly parking rates will increase by five per cent next year.

For more information

Al Horsman
Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer
Finance and Enterprise Services
519-822-1260  extension 5603
al.horsman@guelph.ca