Budget basics

The budget is our plan to wisely manage your money, and the money received through other sources, to deliver the services important to you, your family and your community.

There is a lot that goes into building and balancing the annual budget. Here are the basics.

Areas of focus priorities

Before we even looked at the numbers, we determined our four focus area—the things that will help ensure we build a budget that’s realistic and sustainable.

  • Establish a budget that builds stable foundation for the year and future years
  • Build a budget that is a realistic plan to take care of us today and tomorrow
  • Focus on delivering service and value to the community
  • Community participation—the more involvement from the community, the more reflective the budget will be of the community’s needs and values

What is a balanced budget?

Ontario provincial legislation requires us to have a balanced budget. This means that the money coming in must equal the money going out. Money coming in is often referred to as revenue. Money going out is often referred to as expenditures.

Where does the money come from?

  • Property taxes: 56%
  • Water and wastewater rates: 15%
  • User fees: 9%
  • Grants: 3%
  • Other sources: 18%

Where does the money go?

Of every dollar the City collects in property taxes in 2016, $0.23 is provided to province for education, $0.27 helps funds the City’s local boards and shared services and $0.50 directly helps fund the services the City provides to you and your family.

The following shows where your $0.77 was directed.

City delivered services
  • Fire11.7%
  • General and capital financing10.6%
  • Administrative services7.2%
  • Roads and sidewalks7.1%
  • Transit6.8%
  • Waste4.9%
  • Parks and forestry4.2%
  • Culture and tourism2.8%
  • Emergency medical service (EMS)2.5%
  • Planning and economic development2.3%
  • Other services1.8%
  • Recreation1.7%
  • Infrastructure0.9%
  • Mayor and Council0.4%
Local boards and shared services
  • Police17.4%
  • Social services11.2%
  • Library3.9%
  • Public health1.8%
  • Long-term care (Elliot)0.7%

Parts of the budget

The City has one budget; however, it is rather large and complex so we break it down into sections to make it more manageable.

Since we collect money from different sources, we break our budget into two sections.

The City budget is broken into 2 sections, tax-supported and non-tax supported

The tax-supported budget is funded through property taxes, development charges, grants and gas tax funding.

The non-tax-supported budget, which also includes operating and capital expenses, is funded through user fees, fines and charges depending on which service you are using.

Within each of those sections we have operating and capital budgets.

The operating budget pays for all of our day-to-day activities like salaries and wages, supplies or purchased goods, utilities and fuel. Of course those are only a few of the categories.

The capital budget pays for all of our infrastructure like building new parks and facilities and purchasing new equipment and vehicles. It also covers the cost to fix and replace those items.

The 2 sections are further split into operating and capital sections

Another section included in our budget is our local boards and shared services. These are our partners who help to deliver the additional services you and your family need as Police, public health and library services.

Each local board and shared service operates their own budget. Council only approves a funding transfer to them. We do not direct how that money is spent.

Funding for our local boards and shared service partners comes from your property taxes and water and wastewater rates.

To recap, we have one City budget that is broken down into two sections based on funding source. Those sections are then broken down based on how the money will be spent.

When we present the budget to Council and you, we present it in four parts:

  • Non-tax supported (including both operating and capital)
  • Tax-supported operating
  • Tax-supported capital
  • Tax supported local boards and shared services

What’s the process and who’s involved?

Guelph’s budget is first drafted and reviewed by City staff. Guided by City administration, departments put forth a budget that ensures they can deliver the services and programs our community values.

Once a recommended budget has been agreed to by City administration, it is made public and Council and the community have time to review and comment. Formal public delegation meetings are just one way community members can be involved in the budget process.

Finally, Council will discuss and approve the budget.