Council finalized its budget last night at a 3.14% increase.
Most of the discussion during budget deliberations is about what we cannot afford to do. What rarely gets much attention is what we will be doing for our community with this budget. Here are a few highlights:
- responding to an alarming increase in domestic violence
- keeping our city the safest in Canada by enhancing community policing resources
- ensuring residents and businesses in the south end have the same level of fire protection services as others in our city
- getting our paramedics to people faster to save lives
- improving our financial management practices
- showcasing our local history
- bringing the new skating rink and water feature in front of City Hall to life
- protecting the peace and quiet of our residential neighbourhoods
- investing in transit
- moving forward with critical repairs to our buildings
Our quality of life is rated among the best in the country and this budget will continue to make Guelph a great place to live and invest.
So, did we “raid” reserves or not to achieve this budget. There will be different opinions on this but this is what was done so you can judge for yourself.
First, what are reserves? Essentially, they are like a savings accounts. We put money aside so it is in the bank when we need to spend it.
Council used funds that had accumulated in three reserves to assist with the 2011 budget. Two were operating reserves and they were used for operating expenditures. One was a capital reserve and it was used for capital expenditures. So far so good.
Funds from the Social Services Reserve will be used to pay for one-time costs related to —— social services and community well being.
Funds from the Rate Stabilization Reserve were used to —— manage the tax rate. The purpose of this reserve is to manage the tax rate.
Funds from a Capital Reserve, albeit for parking infrastructure, will be used to —– pay for high risk capital repairs to our facilities. There are always competing demands for capital spending. In this case, making repairs to our facilities trumped parking.