There’s good news and not-so-good news for Guelph in the budget report that senior city hall staff delivered to council this week – quite apart from the numbers being tossed around on how much the city’s costs will likely increase next year and how big city hall’s tax-hike target should be.
Perhaps the brightest note comes on the employment front. Guelph’s unemployment rate of 5.1% in June was well below the Ontario rate of 7.2%, and also below the national rate. From June 2011 to June 2012, the city’s unemployment rate showed a 12.2% decrease, the report says. Guelph’s population growth of 8% from 2006 to 2010 exceeded the average growth for southwestern Ontario, it says. And the city’s estimated average household income, according to a 2011 study cited in the report, was also above the southwestern Ontario average at $84,666.
Not everything is so rosy, though. The level of building permits for new industrial and commercial development in Guelph has been low enough during 2012 that staff expect the city’s supplementary revenues – revenues from new taxes on new buildings or building additions – to decline in 2013. There has been a decrease in the rate of assessment growth – which reflects building in preceding years – in Guelph since a peak in 2009, the report says, and “this marks a change from more properous economic times to leaner times.”
It’s a mixed bag of economic news for Guelph, then. Given how much the city’s costs are going up, according to staff, it will be very interesting to see how council manages to come up with a politically acceptable tax increase in its second-last budget before the next civic elections in 2014.