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City staff makes sales pitch to continue dedicated 1 per cent tax levy

Money targeted for the city's aging infrastructure
20161201 one per cent ts

City staff says that continuing to add a special 1 per cent tax levy each year for 10 years is the best strategy to help deal with Guelph’s growing infrastructure renewal needs, says city staff.

Council approved a special 1 per cent levy for 2017 a year ago. That levy was to be reviewed annually.

A staff report says that makes the sales pitch to continue the 1 per cent levy said the city had to defer $20.5 million in tax-supported capital projects in 2018 because of the funding gap.

That included road reconstruction, parks and trails upgrades, corporate facility renewals and vehicle and equipment replacement.

“As a tangible example, this meant road reconstruction in the City’s older residential neighbourhoods and investment in bridge rehabilitation were deferred,” says the report that will be presented to council on Wednesday as part of the tax-supported operating budget for 2018.Staff is recommending that the 1 per cent dedicated infrastructure levy that was initiated last year be added to tax bills in 2018 and for every year until 2026, totalling 10 per cent.

As it stands. the 2018 city budget will result in a 4.84 per cent increase to the average homeowner.

Council will vote separately on the 1 per cent infrastructure levy.

The next year the 1 per cent becomes part of the tax base and an additional 1 per cent is added, contributing to the overall tax increase.

Last year’s 1 per cent added $2.22 million to capital reserves.

“For further clarity, what staff intended this to mean, is that staff would recommend increasing the Levy by an additional one per cent each year for nine years. Council will have the opportunity to deliberate and approve this increase on an annual basis,” says the latest staff report.

The tax-supported portion of that budget will be presented to council on Wednesday, Nov. 8, beginning at 2 p.m.

City staff estimates that Guelph currently has an infrastructure backlog totalling $491 million.

It says that if the city does not add capital funds above and beyond 2017 levels, the city’s infrastructure backlog will grow to $893 million in 20 years.

“This figure will continue to grow until the City reaches a sustainable capital funding level meaning tha the annual funding levels match the annual infrastructural renewal needs,” reads the staff report on the proposed new levy.

If the city doesn’t “keep pace” in renewing its crumbling infrastructure via tax-supported funding, it will compromise the city’s future capital projects, says the report.

Public delegations on the tax-supported operating budget take place on Nov. 22. Final deliberations and approval is Dec. 5.


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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