About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Budget Warning: Cuts Ahead, But Which Ones?

So, I just got out of the official media brief on the finer points of budget proposals being brought to council on Monday, and this hand is all cuts. Well, sort of.

First and foremost, as was repeated numerous times throughout the brief, these are mere proposals. Council will make the final call (or cut as it were) on the December 14th and 15th meetings when the official budget is passed. As for the proposals themselves, Chief Administrative Officer Hans Loewing called them a "menu of options" split into two groups: "Department Reduction Proposals" and "Other Considerations."

Basically, the city is trying to mitigate the loss of $8.1 million in revenues as much as possible. What this means is, even without any new spending, and using the numbers from the 2009 budget, there's already a 5.2 per cent increase in the 2010 budget that needs to be covered. Contractual obligations, collective agreements and compensation account for another 4 per cent increase. So when it's all said and done, the City of Guelph basically needs to find another $14.4 million for 2010.

So where is much of that money going to come from? Cuts mostly, hopes city officials. With the options presented in the "Department Reduction Proposals" the city can save 4.48 per cent or $7.4 million. If all the items under "Other Considerations" are enacted then a further $2.5 million can be shaved off the deficit, bringing the increase down to a more manageable 3 per cent.

Now the big question: Where do we trim? The City included some ideas, and again to emphasize, these are mere proposals. If you don't like something, let your voice be heard at one of the public meetings, the full schedule for which can be found on an earlier post. Just keep scrolling down.

Proposed Cuts Under "Department Reduction Proposals"
  • $91,100 cuts Economic Development & Tourism (incl. promo materials)
  • 5 unpaid days off for all city staff
  • A reduction in staffing of 29 full time positions, hopefully to be accomplished by attrition ie: retirements and resignations
  • Elimination of stat holiday bus service
  • Summer schedule for transit
  • 7 per cent fare increase for transit (Note: I asked how this would translate to dollar value for a single ride pass on a city bus and was told that the exact breakdown is not yet known, but it could be somewhere between 10 and 20 cents)
  • Increased rental fees on city facilities (rooms, rinks, rec facilities)
  • Delayed opening of east end branch of the library till June '10
  • Reduction in travel, catering and conference costs
Proposed Cuts Under "Other Considerations"
  • Closing Centennial and Lyon's pools
  • Closing Centennial rink
  • Eliminating John Galt Day activities
  • Eliminating 2 hour free parking downtown
  • Adjusting the Industrial and Perimeter transit routes (Note: this does not mean cancelling them)
This is far from a complete and thorough list, but if you have any questions or comments about anything specific, feel free to post below.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me 5 unpaid days off is a little severe for those lower paid employees. Maybe these days off could be based on income.
In bad times libraries are even more important than ever. Hate to see the East end branch delayed. And the main branch deep sixed.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree. Lets protect the libraries and the lower paid workers.

Anonymous said...

Cutting the 2hr free parking downtown would probably be a good thing for the city even though the merchants will cry foul. It is too bad that we are in this situation where the Main library has been cut from the budget yet again and we are looking to spend millions on a parking structure on Wilson St. Ax the Parking add the libraries...

Anonymous said...

Cutting the 2 hour parking downtown would be a bad thing for residents, tourists, and businesses. No one wins in that case. I have had far less trouble parking downtown since the 2-hour free limit was started. Before, people will put money into a meter, and then don;t want to leave before their paid time is up, so people take up spots for longer than they would if they didn't pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah that parking building on Wilson is a luxury the city can not afford right now.
btw what about the lawsuit of the building of the new city hall. Is that settled?

Anonymous said...

The Wilson St Parking Garage is NOT included in the proposed capital budget in the next five years. The proposed 2010 budget defers BOTH the parking garage and the main library on Baker Street

Anonymous said...

I hope there are no layoffs. That would just fuel a downward spiral. Attrition ok. Hiring freeze ok. Some unpaid days off ok...but lets keep the quality of life in Guelph in mind.

rob said...

Keep the quality of life of Guelph in mind? Feel free to join the rest of the world folks! Layoffs, downsizing, and clawbacks are the word of the day!

I certainly would hate to see anyone suffer job losses, or pay decreases, but the bloated paycheques of civic administration is definitely one of the first cuts that should come, especially while the city is so quick to pat themselves on their backs for tax increases and excessive spending.

The city has no one to blame for this budget deficit but themselves. Time to start the chopping there.

I think all of those items Proposed Cuts Under "Department Reduction Proposals" are fair and reasonable except for any disruption of transit service. If anything, at this time of the economy, transit should be increased, and civic admin should be encouraged to take the bus with countless others who have suffered for the past year.

Even the library, which I agree is a requirement, could handle a delay of 6 months. It's not like there aren't 3-4 other branches available on a TRANSIT ROUTE.

The proposed cuts under OTHER CONSIDERATIONS are silly at best. What kind of leverage will they hope to achieve with that? $50000 annually? Didn't the PISSOIR experiment cost more than that?

I would really like to see the complete compiled list with the dollar value attached to each to see what exactly is proposed. But the way this administration acts, no doubt a consulting company will be hired at hundreds of thousands to tell them what to do.

This is going to a very interesting debate, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Rob likes transit. Anonymous like libraries. Someone else will like parks. etc etc. It is going to be tough to be fair. Lets hope they can find a 'made in Guelph" solution that will keep us different from the rest of the world.

Jelena said...

Closing the pools would be quite a shame...!