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County miffed at Guelphs take on social services budget

by David Meyer

GUELPH - Wellington County controls its own spending and county councillors reiterated on Sept. 29 that as much as the City of Guelph wants to be free of county influence, it is not going to happen just yet.

Guelph deputy-treasurer and acting treasurer Susan Aram told county treasurer Craig Dyer in a letter the city has established its budget process guidelines, and has set its deadlines and wants the county to provide the figures in areas where there are joint expenditures.

She stated one rule the city wants is “a 2012 guideline be set at 3% or less without using funding from the tax stabilization reserves and excluding proposed expansions.”

The jointly-paid activities of the city and county include social services, which have been a bone of contention for several years now. The county is in charge of those, and the city council voted last year to stop attending the joint committee meetings and to start its own social services committee. However, it still must pay its share of the bills that are levied by the county.

Aram’s mention of expansions could be referring to Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health’s plans to build health offices in Guelph in Orangeville. Guelph is bitterly opposed to those projects and the city and Wellington and Dufferin counties were still waiting to learn the outcome of a court battle that ended on Sept. 12 without a decision.

There are other areas of shared expenditures, including ambulance service and seniors’ homes. In the former, the city is in charge of the service, which is under social services jurisdiction, and the county runs seniors homes.

Aram wrote on July 28, “Please see attached schedule of budget presentation to council. Staff would appreciate your draft budget information by Aug. 31 at the latest. Please let me know as soon as possible if you plan to participate/submit a presentation. Presentations will be Powerpoint format ... ”

She then listed the dates by which city council wants the submissions. The final submission date is Nov. 8 and each group presenting is permitted to talk for ten minutes.

County treasurer Craig Dyer replied in a letter, “The county will be developing its preliminary five year plan in October and November. A representative from county council will present the results of that process to the city on Nov. 17 [the presentation day] as requested.”

But Dyer stressed the figures presented will be subject to changes, as the county will not finalize its 2012 budget until January. He encouraged Guelph officials to attend a social services committee meeting on Jan. 11 to review the 2012 budget in detail.

County finance committee chairman John Green said the county would respond with the figures it has available by the city’s requested deadline, but he would not commit to a set budget increase.

“We’re being treated as a [city] department,” Green told council. “We don’t suggest what their increase should be.”

 

October 7, 2011

 
 

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