Draft budget sets Ottawa tax increase at 2.39%

A City of Ottawa draft budget is proposing a 2.39 per cent property tax increase for 2011-12.

A City of Ottawa draft budget is proposing a 2.39 per cent property tax increase for 2011-12.

The draft budget, tabled before city council Wednesday, calls for an increase of $3.2 million to OC Transpo for growth and an additional $2.3 million to boost capacity on routes 87 (South Keys to Baseline), 94 (Woodroffe to Millennium), 95 (Orleans & Trim to Barrhaven) and 96 (Hurdman & Blair to Terry Fox).

"The toughest part is over," said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson of this year's challenges in overhauling transit routes.

Infrastructure boost

Watson also said the budget contains plans to accelerate capital works projects through a program called Ottawa on the Move.

The Ottawa on the Move project calls for the resurfacing of some 200 km of roads by 2014, 70 km of which will see added bike lanes and paved shoulders.

The $340 million project will be partly funded by $125 million in new debt. Watson argued there has never been a better time to borrow for infrastructure projects with interest rates as low as they are.

The mayor quoting from a resident he spoke with, said "We need to take care of the roads we have before we expand further."

The draft budget also pledges $2.5 million city-wide for immediate traffic fixes, rather than a $30,000 per ward fund.

47 positions to be cut

The draft budget also calls for the elimination of 47 full-time equivalent positions at the city for a savings of $3.4 million annually. Watson had said earlier this week the city needed to do a better job of reining in spending and the bureaucracy at city hall.

Watson said it is the first time since 2004 the city is reducing its workforce.

The budget also included plans to continue to spend on projects already in the works, including:

  • $18.3 million to upgrade the city's sewer system.
  • $12 million to redevelop Arts Court.
  • $24 million over the next three years to upgrade cycling infrastructure.
  • $21.3 million on a stormwater system in Kanata.

The budget also includes a continued freeze on fees for city recreation programs, council budgets and salaries and limits a transit fare increase to 2.5 per cent.

Earlier the Ottawa Police tabled their draft budget, calling for a budget increase of $9.3 million to a net operating budget of $246.7 million. Police said with expected growth in the city the the resulting increase works out to a budget increase of 2.5 per cent.

Community consultations on the draft budget will begin November 1.