OPINION: Tough Decisions on Taxes Should Be Made by Council, Not Staff

The Guelph Tribune asked members of Council their thoughts on Mayor Guthrie’s upcoming notice of motion re: tax rate increase at inflation or less.

Read the article here.

An interesting side note:  Between November 2013 and November 2014, the Consumer Price Index in Ontario was 2.4%.*  Last year’s (2014) tax rate increase in the City of Guelph was 2.38%.  

* Source:  Statistics Canada

Weigh In on City of Guelph 2014 Capital Budget

The 2014 Capital Budget was presented to Council in early October. It’s a mixed bag of infrastructure renewal, strategic investments, economic development and upgrading of facilities, parks and buildings.

Input, questions, concerns? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Learn more about what is in (and what is out) of the 2014 Capital Budget at http://guelph.ca/2013/09/highlights-guelphs-capital-investment-strategy/

LP

City of Guelph Budget Public Comment Period

Over the next two weeks, we invite public comment on the proposed 2010 City of Guelph budget. As we contemplate efficiencies and possible changes to services, we need your input more than ever. The budget vote will occur on December 14 (user pay budget) and December 15 (operating and capital budgets).

By letter: mail or drop off to 1 Carden Street.
By email: email your ward councillor or send a letter to clerks@guelph.ca for circulation to all members of Council.
By phone: call your councillor on the telephone
In person: register as a delegation to address Council on the evening of Monday, December 8. Register by contacting clerks@guelph.ca

To download a copy of the proposed 2010 City of Guelph budget documents, go to:

http://guelph.ca/cityhall.cfm?subCatID=852&smocid=1438

City councillors hope to avoid cutting jobs from budget

The article below appears in the November 30, 2009 Guelph Mercury.

My comments:  Trimming staff at any level is difficult.  Efficiencies in the delivery of municipal services come in many forms and neither front line staff, union or otherwise, or managers should be specifically targeted.   The only good reason for cutting staff should be if a service is no longer provided, or if efficiencies in the delivery of a service has resulted in the need to reduce the number of staff required.

For the record, the current management (directors, managers and supervisors) to non-management ratio at the City of Guelph is 1:13.    The municipal benchmark (HRBN 2008) is 1:10.  Guelph is BELOW the municipal benchmark.

City councilors hope to avoid cutting jobs from budget

November 30, 2009

Rob O’Flanagan

roflanagan@guelphmercury.com

GUELPH — Guelph city councilors are plowing through budget documents, trying to find ways to save money and dig the city out of a massive monetary hole.

On Sunday, Ward 1 councilors Bob Bell and Kathleen Farrelly spent the afternoon engaged in the tough process. Both said they are not in favour of cutting jobs at the bottom of the city’s employment ladder.

Front-line staff should be spared, they said, while upper level management positions should be the first to be trimmed, if trimming is necessary, both said.

Bell is beginning to hear from his constituents about proposed cuts to spending and revenue generation plans aimed at addressing over $8 million in revenue reduction. Neighbourhood groups, he said, want to know their funding will continue. Others want to see a zero tax increase and more cost cutting, he added.

“Whenever you cut everything there is always somebody that says, ‘Ouch.’ That’s why they call it a cut,” said Bell. “But I think it’s important that we make the adjustments in the right place, and that we don’t cut at the bottom.

“My perception is that most of the cuts are at the bottom,” he continued, “and I don’t think that is appropriate. I think we have been adding positions at the top and we should be balancing the budget cuts throughout the structure of the city, not just at the bottom.”

Bell said there appears to be a mindset to protect salaried positions while reducing union positions. He and Farrelly want to see the mindset reversed.

“The people who are actually delivering the services are the union positions,” Bell said.

Farrelly agrees that cutting unionized positions is not a good approach for dealing with budget shortfalls. But finding a balance will be challenging, she conceded.

“What we want to do is not have people jumping out of their seats because we’ve gone haywire on the increase in the taxes,” she said.

Farrelly favours cutting positions from “upper management down, instead of having upper management top heavy.”

“The people who are working to give the good services that we hope for, they are the ones that should be considered very, very carefully before we would make cuts there,” she said.

In September, the city announced it was implementing strategies to “compensate for lower than average revenues in 2009,” city treasurer Margaret Neubauer stated in a media release.

Some projects will have to be postponed, others canceled. The elimination of 29 full-time city jobs is being contemplated.

Other proposals up for consideration are the closure of Centennial pool and the Household Hazardous Waste depot, and the elimination of yard-waste collection and sidewalk plowing in front of private properties. A delay in opening an east-end library branch is another option.

Historically low interest rates had a negative impact on the city’s investment income, Neubauer stated. Markets for recycled commodities were below average, as were sales of recycled paper, plastic and aluminum. Adding to the revenue reductions was the fact that fewer tickets and fines were issued and collected.

Postponing equipment replacements, reducing expenditures, deferring construction projects and improving purchasing efficiencies for vehicles, energy and employee benefit packages are other measures being explored.

City and Chamber Host Meeting on Capital and Financial Plan

The City of Guelph and the Guelph Chamber of Commerce invite you to attend a discussion on the capital development and financial planning process on Tuesday July 15, at the Italian Canadian Club from 10am to noon.

Guelph has major capital projects planned over the next few years to meet Ontario?s Places to Grow initiative. Along with the residential and business development plans is a financial plan that is in
process. Our City Economic Development department has an employment land strategy to support the growth plans. Representatives from Planning, Finance, and Economic Development will join with Mayor Karen Farbridge to give business an overview of the City plans.

We look forward to meeting with you on July 15th, and to give you the opportunity to discuss how the City of Guelph plans to Move Business Forward in the exciting times ahead.

To register for this event, please contact the Guelph Chamber of Commerce at (519) 822-8081 or email Irene@guelphchamber.com. There is no charge to participate in this event.