Healthcare and infrastructure are driving forces of 2024 Wellington County budget: treasurer

A soft focus closeup of two hands, one hand using a calculator, the other holding a pen writing in a notebook. There is a pair of glasses and some loose change on the desk.
Wellington County is bracing for unusually high rates in a few categories of their budget in the new year. Photo by Canva.
Riley Gillespie-Wilson - CICW - FergusON | 23-11-2023
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Healthcare, infrastructure and roads are all words dominating conversations at budget discussions in Wellington County.

The 2024 budget is in the works, and garage repairs and road costs are "unusual" aspects driving the budget numbers, according to County Treasurer Ken DeHart. These aspects are “driving forces,” he said, following an administration, finance and human resources meeting in County Chambers on Tuesday.

Garages and other infrastructure: 

DeHart also said that  there are an atypically high number of garages to repair within local boundaries. "We have eight county garages, eight garages located throughout the county. We're planning on replacing all eight," he said. "We've replaced two already. That is a major driver of this budget that's kind of out of the ordinary."

In total, due to the increase, $373 million is projected in spending for the roads department over the next decade.

Also identified as something that shifted the look of this budget, DeHart said four bridges in Arthur will take a combined $18-20 million to repair in the coming years.


Another highlight in DeHart’s mind is healthcare.

Ambulance station builds have been deferred until 2027. Also shaping budget figures in healthcare is the fact that doctor recruitment dollars may be pulled.

"If, at the time that Guelph approves their budget, which is scheduled for early December - if they do not include that amount in their budget, we're likely to pull that amount out," he said.

A $50,000 sum has been provisionally placed in the county's budget for doctor recruitment pending support from the City of Guelph and Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

Also noteworthy DeHart says, is a lengthy saga that in the end, sees no budget allocation for the renovation of county ambulance stations.

"Last time the optimal services delivery study was done was in 2016. The city told us 'we haven't scheduled to do that study until 2027,'" DeHart explained. "Before we make this kind of investment, we want to know that the results of this study reflects where these ambulance stations should be," he added.

The budget will be looked at again in the coming months, with a County Council meeting set for November 30th.

Listen to the CICW story below: