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Guelph approves 2.69 per cent property tax increase in 2019 budget

Guelph city hall - file photo.
Guelph city hall - file photo. Matt Carty / Global News

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.

READ MORE: Guelph Transit review makes 12 recommendations to city council: report

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.

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“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.

READ MORE: Guelph city council approves 2.95 per cent tax increase

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.

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READ MORE: Guelph city council approves 2019 capital budget

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.