The proposed 2012 Operating Budget will come to council for the first time Wednesday night, and to answer your first question, yes there is a proposed tax increase. The magic number is three per cent. That's the increase in taxes that city staff is asking for in this coming fiscal year.
“In order to achieve the three per cent guideline,” the report reads, “this budget does not meet the demands of growth, nor new services. However, the executive team has prioritized these needs for council’s consideration, should council wish to build those allowances back into this budget.”
Apparently, the total tax increase came to about 5.6 per cent, but to cut down on costs, the budget has a number of contingency measures, including a three percent increase on transit tickets and passes, the sale of the city's system of street lights to Guelph Hydro, and initiating a "gapping period" where all city job vacancies are purposefully left open for three months.
Those are just the highlights. The City of Guelph released the whole thing in detail in a press release. Read the release below and follow the links.
GUELPH, ON, November 1, 2011 – City of Guelph staff have released the proposed 2012 municipal Operating Budget. The proposed budget will be presented to City Council Wednesday evening.
The proposed budget meets a three per cent guideline Council prescribed in July as part of the budget process. In meeting that guideline, staff have built a budget that focuses on affordability, and is respectful of Council’s desire to deliver public services at a cost that is affordable for taxpayers.
"Council gave staff a mandate to build a budget that does not exceed a three per cent increase over 2011," says Guelph’s Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert. "Staff have spent months putting together a budget submission that endeavours to balance affordability with residents’ expectations about quality service. To achieve that, we’ve had to explore new approaches to familiar questions and make some difficult decisions."
Pappert explains that part of doing business differently—a theme that surfaced in the City’s 2012 Capital and Enterprise Budgets—means exploring shared funding arrangements, leveraging partnerships, and seeking opportunities to acquire additional support and funding from other sources where possible. As an example, this budget includes the sale of the City’s street lights to Guelph Hydro, and an aggressive reduction in energy use in City-owned buildings.
Among the significant influences on the proposed budget is annualization costs associated with the many new facilities Guelph is about to bring on stream, including Market Square, a new civic museum, and the intermodal transit terminal, to name a few. Annualization accounts for a full one per cent of the proposed three per cent increase. Contractual obligations and external cost drivers for items such as fuel and electricity also bear a significant impact on the budget.
The proposed budget accounts for neither growth, nor new services. To meet the three per cent guideline, the City’s Executive Team did not approve any new positions needed to address growth. Those positions have however been prioritized, should Council wish to consider and/or add them.
Council will consider the budget submission over the next few weeks before final deliberations on December 7, 2011. A meeting at which members of the public can address Council is scheduled to take place on November 23. Anyone who wishes to delegate at that meeting is invited to e-mail the City Clerk’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.