City of Ottawa draft budget calls for 1.75% tax increase
$1.6M earmarked for gang exit strategy funding
Ottawa's draft city budget for 2015 calls for an average tax increase of 1.75 per cent from the previous year, with OC Transpo fares increasing 2.5 per cent.
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Mayor Jim Watson unveiled the draft budget at a meeting of city council on Wednesday, and said the budget doesn't contains significant cuts.
The average urban residential tax increase will be two per cent, so on a $355,000 home it works out to a $67 increase for an average property tax bill of $3,406. The lower commercial tax rate of 1.37 per cent lowers the overall tax rate to 1.75 per cent.
Transit fares are also rising, with the cash fare rising to $3.55, $2.84 using the Presto card. Monthly adult passes will rise to $103.25, while UPass fares will go up to $192.70 a semester.
In addition to money earmarked for infrastructure projects, it does contain $400,000 earmarked annually for exit strategy and employment opportunity programs for gang members, for a total of $1.6 million over the next four years.
The budget also called for recreation fee increases to be capped at two per cent. Recreation fees had been frozen for four years as one of Watson's campaign promises in 2010.
Water and sewer rates would go up six per cent under the draft budget, for an average increase of $48 in 2015.
Garbage rates remain frozen for the third consecutive year, with an average rate of $82 added to the property tax bill.
Aside of the gang strategy funding, the city is also earmarking funds for:
- Increase funding for tree planting by $125,000, putting the total expenditure at $1.3 million.
- Maintenance of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation property.
- Increased funding for the School Crossing Guard Program.
- City involvement in the renewal of the Ottawa Pride Festival.
- Funding a commemoration of the victims of the tragic September 2013 bus-train collision.
Increases in line with previous budgets
The cost of an adult monthly pass for OC Transpo went up at a rate comparable to the tax increase — rising an average of 2.5 per cent, from $91.50 in 2010 to $100.75 in 2014.
In 2010, the average annual residential water bill — including sewer and fire supply costs — was $639. In 2014 it was $804.