Council approves 2017 Budget – improving core services and maintaining two per cent tax commitment
Today, City Council approved the 2017 Budget, focussing on strengthening core municipal services and long-term affordability. The budget maintains Council’s commitment to limiting the property tax increase to two percent.
The budget also places emphasis on supporting core community priorities such as social infrastructure, safety, the environment, support for the arts and efforts to promote economic growth. Substantial investments are also made in active transportation, improved transit services, and programs that support our most vulnerable residents.
Taking into account the provincial upload of social services, the city is increasing the level of investment in the Community and Social Services budget by $5.92 million in City money, which is a 3.1 per cent increased investment over last year. This includes the money for the EquiPass, Community Sustainability Fund, and increasing the inflationary funding from 1.5 to 2 per cent for community agencies.
One of the key social investments is the introduction of the new EquiPass, which provides residents living below the low income cut-off with a 50 percent discount on a monthly adult transit pass. When it comes into effect this spring, a single person will see a $56 savings every month (close to $672 per year) – leaving more household finances for necessities – such as food, clothing and accommodation. EquiPass is the largest one-time increase in financial support for public transit in the City’s history.
In addition, the City’s ongoing efficiency reviews – which included the recent corporate alignment – helped secure accumulated savings for both 2017 and 2018. The new alignment enabled the City to operate within its means and optimize its ability to deliver programs and services in an effective and cost-efficient manner.
The budget also includes a 1.25 percent increase in the total amount generated from transit fares and limits the surcharges for water and sewer services to an increase of five percent. In addition to capping the residential property tax at two percent, the transit levy was set at 2.5 percent, and the garbage fee rose slightly by $2, amounting to approximately $72 per year for an urban home assessed at $395,400 and $60 per year for a rural home assessed at the same amount.
Budget 2017 continues Council’s commitment to strengthen the long-term vision of an affordable, caring, sustainable and prosperous city. City-wide highlights include:
An Affordable City
• Limit the proposed tax revenue increase for the City-wide levy to two percent
• Continue setting money aside to reduce the funding gap for the maintenance of City assets
• Maintain the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase at five percent
A Caring City
• Introduce the new EquiPass, a transit pass to assist residents earning below Statistic Canada’s low income cut-off
• Invest in city-wide safety by adding 24 new paramedic positions and five new emergency response vehicles to maintain our Paramedic Service’s ability to meet legislated response time targets
• Maintain our $16-million investment in affordable housing and homelessness programs
• Invest in community agencies currently receiving Community Funding that deliver a wide range of programs and services
• Improve road safety by expanding the red-light camera program and funding new street lighting, traffic control devices and crossing-guards
• Strategic investments in parks and recreation infrastructure and support to recreation programming
• Increase funding for arts infrastructure and programs that support the long-term marketing and growth of our festivals and other arts, culture and heritage projects that will be chosen by the community
A Sustainable City
• Continue improving the City’s cycling infrastructure network with a focus on safety and convenience, featuring buffered bike lanes, enhanced cycling crossings and wider sidewalks for pedestrians
• Invest in measures to protect the urban tree canopy
• Build the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel – the largest Ottawa River Action Plan project
• Rehabilitate the communal well system that serves rural Ottawa
A Prosperous City
• Bid on the 2021 Canada Summer Games to bring tourism dollars into the local economy
• Continue work on the O-Train Confederation Line project
• Invest $1.75 million to improve and expand bus service for customers in growing areas of the city
• Invest in transportation infrastructure to support growing neighbourhoods in the west, east and south
• Support for special events in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary
For further information on Budget 2017, visit ottawa.ca/budget.
“Affordability and inclusiveness are the building blocks of Budget 2017,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “That means keeping the property tax increase at two percent, ensuring equitable access to transit for low income earners, and providing assistance to the most vulnerable members of our community. These steps compliment our budget investments in growth, mobility, economic development, safety and the environment – creating a vibrant city and strong local economy.”
“The City has worked hard to find efficiencies across the entire organization,” said City Manager Steve Kanellakos. “We are creating a dynamic organization that will strengthen our core municipal services to residents and deliver on the Council priorities that enhance the lives of residents and our city’s future.”