In a report given by the top public executive at city hall to Council on Friday, staff write that the provincial cuts and downloads affecting paramedic services, public health and childcare will cause a “significant impact” on the city’s 2020 operating and capital budget planning.
Municipalities across Ontario teamed up last month in an effort largely led by Mayor Cam Guthrie and the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, known as LUMCO, to delay the cuts and “downloading by stealth” the Progressive Conservatives wanted to carry out for a year.
The cities argued that they had already passed budget packages for the next fiscal year and that the sudden changes to provincial funding would create chaos.
The staff report warned that “there will be difficult service-level decisions for Council to make as a result of the Provincial Government’s changes, and as the City finalizes its strategic plan” but said they are actively planning for the 2020 budget with the provincial changes in mind.
Staff also write in the report that the impact of Bill 108 — the “More Homes, More Choice Act” — will “likely result” in higher tax bills.
“The Action Plan and corresponding legislation will have repercussions on municipal planning, revenue generation, and financing infrastructure projects, particularly as they relate to the collection of soft service development charges,” staff add.
Development charges, or DCs, are one of the critical changes that could impact the city. DCs are fees paid by developers for new buildings that are intended to offset the cost to the city of those of their new developments.
“The likely result will be increased taxes from residents to maintain services, which is unsustainable as the Guelph community continues to grow,” staff write in the publicly released report.
The report says a change in the funding system for local health units could cost the city between $675,000 and $1.35 million, as Guelph takes on 5 per cent more of the funding burden.
There will be tricky budgetary decisions for Council ahead, the report warns. The community will be impacted to, staff write, adding that the changes to local health services “may create temporary confusion as these services are transferred to other agencies.”
Council will consider 2020 budget planning options throughout the month of July as staff seek direction for both the city’s departmental and local board guidelines, staff add.
“At this time, the full fiscal impact on the City cannot be determined until more details about how the changes will be implemented through various Acts’ corresponding regulations.”