Ottawa city council tabled a budget Wednesday that calls for urban taxes to increase by 2.09 per cent and a rural tax increase of just under two per cent.
Mayor Jim Watson said the budget, if approved, would include the lowest tax increase in the city in six years and would be below the 2.5-per-cent cap city council committed to.
The city will cut 42 full-time jobs while eliminating nearly 100 other positions that are unfilled, for a savings of $3.5 million. Last year's budget cut 47 full-time positions.
The budget would also continue a freeze on mayor and councillor budgets, and trim $8.8 million from Service Ottawa's budget through savings.
Public transit fares, meanwhile, will go up 2.5 per cent.
Watson said the budget also calls for the city to keep a freeze on the city's recreation fees for the third year in a row.
Funding for infrastructure, traffic signals
Other highlights include:
- $14 million in continued funding for council’s poverty and homelessness initiative.
- $5.5 million to add to the annual contribution to capital funding for infrastructure maintenance and renewal.
- $4.9 million for new traffic control signals, intersection control measures, pedestrian countdown signals and the Pedestrian Facilities Program and Audible Signal Program.
- $4.4 million in reallocated funding to offset changes in provincial funding to preserve most benefits for vulnerable and low-income residents.
- $2.5 million for ongoing environmental remediation and greening of the city fleet.
- $2 million to give existing buildings and parks an accessibility retrofit.
- $1 million in combined capital and operating funding for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan.
- $1 million for the review of the Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan.
- $975,000 combined operating and capital funding to increase the forest cover and combat the Emerald Ash Borer, bringing total investment to $1.8 million.
- $500,000 for the Older Adult Plan coming out of last year’s Seniors Summit.
Police draft budget calls for 2.5% increase
Earlier in the morning Ottawa police tabled a draft budget for next year calling for a net operating budget of $256.3 million, which they say amounts to a 2.5 per cent increase from the previous year.
Tax increases in last five years
Urban tax increase (%)
(source: City of Ottawa). * projected
Police presented the draft budget at a special meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board Wednesday in advance of the city council meeting.
Police said their projected budget is $9.5 million more than their budget in 2012, but they say expected assessment growth means the resulting net increase to the police tax rate is closer to $5.5 million, or 2.5 per cent.
Watson had made a campaign promise two years ago to hold tax increases to 2.5 per cent or lower each year, and has called on city departments, including police, to produce budgets in line with that policy.
The chair of the police services board, Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, said the budget meets the target while maintaining quality of service.
Almost the entire increase is dedicated to police staff compensation.
Council is scheduled to vote on the budget in late November.