After a week off, the #GuelphBudget process begins again with a night of public delegations. What will the people think of the proposed 2017 City budget?
The evening will begin with Acting City Treasurer James Krauter presenting the results of the budget simulator. The simulator is part of the annual public feedback process offered by the City, a tool that allows the user to take control of the City’s budget and make practical decisions on where there should be spending or cuts in Guelph's bottom line. The results are shared at council as part of public delegation night.
Many of the usual suspects will be presenting Wednesday night including community activist Sian Matwey, Ted Pritchard of the Fair Tax Campaign Guelph, transit advocate Steve Petric, and Kithio Mwanzia of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. Pat Fung will also be there to point out that the City of Guelph is a money pit that loves to spend tax money as quickly as it takes more of it, particularly in the communications department. In all there are 14 speakers on the delegation list, and three correspondences, although two of the letters are from delegates signed up to present.
One of those is Marios Matsias of the Business Centre Guelph-Wellington. They're asking for an increase in the City's annual investment from $37,500 to $80,000, and they're also asking for a one-time investment of $100,000, "to fund our efforts as we expand our paid services; upgrade our service structure and tools; increase new business starts in Guelph." The Business Centre says they're worth the investment because their programs launch at least 100 new businesses annually, and expanding economic development by $3 to $5 million. The Centre is also trying to transition from program funding to earned income and project work, and is asking for the City's help to facilitate that.
Further affecting the pending deliberations, which will begin at the December 7 meeting, is the recent news that Guelph's property assessment has grown by $3.7 million. As a result, the recommended base budget increase has gone from $4.3 million to $3.7 million, or 1.98 to 1.69 per cent. Assessment growth, as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, is the change (plus or minus) in available property tax dollars for the City.
“The recommended budget of approximately $222 million has not changed. We still need that budget to deliver the programs and services the community needs,” Krauter said in the press release. “What has changed is the amount of additional property taxes the City needs to collect to fund the recommended budget. Having additional funds available through assessment growth means that we can lower the net levy amount giving Council more room to consider and address the challenges facing our community.”
The #GuelphBudget meeting begins at 6 pm on Wednesday.