Guelph city council has approved a $244-million operating budget that comes with a 2.69 per cent increase to property taxes.
It’s a bit of drop from the 3.93 per cent increase staff had been asking for.
The main reason is because council approved a cut to the dedicated infrastructure tax levy from 1.5 per cent down to one per cent.
The one per cent levy is added to the budget to pay for a backlog in infrastructure renewal, but staff had asked for 1.5 per cent to make up for the half per cent that was taken out of a reserve in last year’s budget.
But council rejected that request and Mayor Cam Guthrie said they need to have a more wholesome conversation about the levy.
“If we can’t figure it out between today and the next budget, then I’m very concerned because I feel like we’re going to be behind and behind,” he said.
Ultimately, council voted unanimously in favour the budget, which is said to be the lowest in years.
The mayor even managed to get about $302,000 in funding for initiatives in his homelessness and addictions task force.
It was just last month that Guthrie admitted he had failed as a mayor on the issue in his last term.
“We’re implementing these initiatives to help people,” Guthrie said. “That’s absolutely incredible, so thank you.”
The funding will go towards a recovery room with five beds for people going through an addiction or mental health crisis.
It will also pay for a court support worker and two community support workers in the downtown core.
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Several local stakeholders are also contributing funding to the initiatives, but the city will still need to come up with long-term solutions.
Council also added $330,000 to the affordable housing reserve and almost $500,000 to implement recommendations from the Guelph Transit service.
The tax rate for property owners will be finalized in April, the city said.