Chamber of Commerce joins the gathering storm over the 2013 city budge

Posted November 27, 2012

Guelph Chamber of Commerce President, Lloyd Longfield, has sent a letter to members of city council addressing the issues of public concern over the proposed 2013 city budget.

Mr. Longfield expressed concern that the staff’s proposing to add 23 fulltime employees next year while cutting services such as pools, splash pools and sidewalk snow plowing.

His solution was for council to consider using private partnerships to supply some city services instead of adding staff. He added that 2013 is expected to be a “flat” year in the city business community.  With the drastic service reductions in the staff budget proposal, suggesting a property tax increase of 3.7 per cent, the chamber president suggested it should be limited to 2 per cent.

“An opportunity like this could save significant cost in operations with some capital investment,” the president said. He was specifically referring to using local private technology businesses to provide updates to the city’s technology systems.

This is an excellent suggestion to reduce staff costs and perform a rethink of the city’s technology needs.

On Thursday, November 29, there will be more comment from stakeholders who are critical of city spending; particularly staff costs, currently taking an 89 per cent bite of the entire city budget.

The question of future retired employee obligations will also be raised. Taxpayers in Guelph must guarantee the defined pension plan proceeds of its retired employees. The growing number of city employees magnifies this and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) which represents almost all of Guelph’s public staff, is currently underfunded by $9 billion.

These are only a few of the issues facing council as it moves to strike the new budget.

Will this be the winter of discontent?

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