Ottawa city council unanimously approved the 2014 budget on Wednesday. The $3 billion plan will see residents' taxes go up 1.9 per cent — below the two per cent cap set by council in May 2013 and the lowest tax hike in seven years.
The budget will continue freezes on the mayor's and councillors' office budgets, as well as freezes on recreation and garbage fees. Average transit fares are expected to increase by 1.9 per cent.
The process went smoothly — until one unexpected item nearly stalled the debate.
The budget included a provision to improve Lynda Lane, a residential street in Alta Vista described as a dark "rural road" in the city, with no lights or sidewalks. It's also a popular parking spot for visitors to the nearby General campus of the Ottawa Hospital.
Staff introduced the $1.4 million project as a budget add-on at the last minute on Wednesday.
"It was intended to have been in this budget, and it was clearly an oversight that it is not in front of you today," said Nancy Schepers, deputy city manager.
Councillors debated for about an hour before approving the project along with the entire budget.
Mayor Jim Watson said after the council meeting it is the last budget of this council's term.
"I will lay out a platform in 2014 that talks about the tax rates and what I think is a reasonable level and that will be part of my platform."
- Roll-out of “MyServiceOttawa”, an online site that lets residents and businesses securely access city services and information in one place 24/7; pay and view billing information for tax and water bills; and apply for a number of licenses and permits online.
- Open the new Lansdowne Park and provide $2 million in funding for programming and part-year operations.
- Complete the final year of the $340 million Ottawa-on-the-Move 3-year infrastructure program, including $45 million in citywide road resurfacing to improve transportation networks.
- Continue the widening of Highway 417 in coordination with the construction of the Confederation Line.
- Invest $4 million to improve peak operation in highly congested intersections.
- Increase investment in cycling safety and facilities by $2 million.
- Continue annual investment of $14 million in the Housing and Homelessness Investment Plan.
- Invest $2 million in accessibility improvements to existing city buildings and parks.