Inflation, supply chain, labour markets and economic uncertainty influenced the City’s first budget confirmation
Guelph, Ont., January 25, 2023 – On January 25, Guelph City Council confirmed and officially readopted the 2023 budget for the City of Guelph with a confirmed tax levy increase of 4.46 per cent, 0.71 per cent lower than the rate of 5.17 per cent previously approved by Council for 2023 as part of the 2022-2023 Multi-Year Budget.
“Today’s act of confirming and readopting the 2023 budget was not simply a rubber-stamping exercise,” says Mayor Cam Guthrie. “My fellow Council colleagues and staff have worked diligently to find value for our taxpayers and ensure the 2023 budget is reflective of our current environment, including new challenges we face together as a community.”
For taxpayers, the confirmed 4.46 per cent tax levy increase represents increases related to City investment of 2.47 per cent, 0.28 per cent for legislative impacts resulting from Bill 109 and Bill 23, and 1.71 per cent for local boards and shared services. The average household, with a residential property assessed at $406,000, can expect to pay about $4,371 in property taxes in 2023 based on the confirmed budget. This is an annual increase of about $187 over 2022 or $16 per month.
The 2023 user fees and rates for water, wastewater and stormwater were confirmed without change from what was approved in the 2022-2023 Multi-Year Budget, equivalent to a 2.73 per cent increase over 2022, with an estimated annual average residential bill increase of about $26, or $2 per month.
This is the first confirmation process and budget readoption the City has completed as it continues to execute its inaugural, Council-approved 2022-2023 Multi-Year Budget.
“Council’s confirmation of the 2023 budget and receipt of the three-year operating and eight-year capital forecasts set the pace for the projects, initiatives and services that will continue to make our community and organization future-ready,” says Trevor Lee, deputy chief administrative officer, Corporate Services.
“Even the best-laid plans can change, and it’s no different for budgets. The budget confirmation process completed in each subsequent year of an approved multi-year budget is necessary to ensure our planned budget spends are reflective of the current environment in which we’re operating and serving the community,” explains Shanna O’Dwyer, acting treasurer and Finance general manager. “Our strong reserve position and AAA S&P credit rating provide the City with the means to manage unexpected changes within a given year, like the legislative impacts and high inflation we’re currently experiencing, to help balance affordability and progress as necessary and buffer unexpected cost increases for taxpayers.”
Operating and capital budgets
The 2023 confirmed budget includes the non-tax operating (e.g., water, wastewater and stormwater fees), tax-supported operating, capital, and local boards and shared services budgets as one single budget regardless of the funding source or which City department manages the service.
The confirmed 2023 capital budget is $123.2 million, a net decrease of $38.7 million from the originally approved $161.9 million. The focus of planned capital investments for 2023 remains consistent with what was approved in the 2022-2023 Multi-Year Budget; however, the level and timing of investments have been adjusted.
Highlights of the confirmed 2023 budget include:
- An acceleration of the expansion of resources for Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Services originally planned for 2025 to maintain service levels and response times as increased call volumes cannot be sustained.
- A reduction of $1.4 million in funding for infrastructure renewal to help reduce the overall tax burden during a time of economic uncertainty.
- A continued investment of $500,000 in affordable housing.
- An investment of $1.6 million to begin addressing the impacts of Bill 23, of which $1.1 million is funded through reserves.
- Funding of $150,000 to conduct a formal review of the gaps that exist related to homelessness, addictions, and the mental health crisis within the Guelph community, alongside monitoring and reporting back on continued housing legislation changes imposed on the City.
- The addition of $202,500 to the base budget for the Welcoming Streets initiative.
- Approval of the Affordable Bus Pass Sliding Scale subsidy for 2023 at a cost of $558,000 and its addition to the base budget for 2024 at a rate of $458,000.
- Funding to continue the Kids Ride Free pilot program until further decisions are made as part of the Transit Fare Strategy this spring.
- Operational funding of $300,000 for the Economic Development and Tourism strategy to support business service agencies like, but not limited to, Innovation Guelph and the Guelph Wellington Business Centre.
- A slow-down of the phase-in for the South End Community Centre and Baker District Redevelopment operating impacts.
Further details on the confirmed 2023 operating budget, including local boards and shared services, and capital budgets can be found on the budget dashboard.
Posting of final budget documents
All final budget documents will be available at guelph.ca/budget and comply with the Province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Accessible formats are available by calling 519-822-1260 extension 2325 or TTY 519-826-9771.
2024-2027 Multi-Year Budget development
Development of the 2024-2027 Multi-Year Budget will commence in spring 2023. Stay tuned to guelph.ca/budget for details on the 2024-2027 budget process and for opportunities for budget-related community engagement.
Treasurer and Acting General Manager, Finance
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2300