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Politics

Property tax increase unclear as Guelph releases 2020 proposed operating budget

Guelph City Hall.
Guelph City Hall. Matt Carty / Global News

Guelph residents are looking at a property tax increase next year, but how much of an increase is still up in the air even after the city’s proposed 2020 tax-supported operating budget was released this week.

The proposal from staff includes over $258 million in spending, which is a 3.88 per cent increase over last year, but those numbers will likely fluctuate before city council signs off on it next month.

That’s because there are some last-minute spending proposals that must be voted on by councillors before they are added to the budget discussions.

READ MORE: Guelph General Hospital asks city council for $4.5 million

There is a $4.5 million request from Guelph General Hospital for their expansion project and a $1.7 million proposal to operate five new Guelph Transit buses.

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Council will decide if they will be added to the 2020 operating budget during a meeting on Nov. 25.

The budget already includes a big ask from Guelph police after the police services board approved $46 million in spending, which is $4.1 million increase from last year’s budget.

They plan to hire 18 new police officers and 13 civilian staff.

READ MORE: Guelph police board approves $46 million 2020 budget

The budget also includes a special levy to cover a city building shortfall of $52.1 million over the next decade.

The city said 0.73 per cent increases would be added to property taxes each year for the next three years for a total of 2.19 per cent. The proposed downtown library would be funded with 0.86 per cent of that.

It’ll be voted on as part of the capital budget deliberations on Nov. 13.

The city said the special levy could be reduced if the city secures funding from other sources, such as upper levels of government.

READ MORE: Proposed 2.19 per cent levy included in Guelph’s 2020 capital budget

The good news for residents is that city council does have a history of lowering proposed increases to property taxes.

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Last year, staff requested an increase of 3.93 per cent, but after some tinkering, council approved a 2.95 per cent increase.

During the 2018 budget deliberations, the proposed tax increase was lowered by 1.5 per cent before councillors approved it.

READ MORE: Guelph proposing 2.6 per cent increase to water bills in 2020

Staff will present the tax-supported operating budget to city council during a meeting on Nov. 18. The police budget and other local board and shared services budgets will be presented on Nov. 20.

Delegations for each will be heard on Nov. 27 before council makes its final decision on Dec. 3.

All of the budgets and a schedule for when city council will meet for discussions is available on the City of Guelph’s website.