Ottawa – Ottawa City Council today received and tabled its first draft budget of its term, which seeks to maintain the momentum of significant city-building projects such as light rail transit, Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre. The draft budget proposes key investments in affordable housing, community facilities and crime prevention, while keeping taxes and user fees affordable.
“This budget strikes the right balance by keeping life affordable, while continuing to make smart investments in Ottawa’s economy and quality of life,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Signs of momentum are all around us – it’s an exciting time to be in the nation’s capital.”
The budget holds the line on current spending while keeping tax revenue increases to 1.75 per cent, which translates to a 2 per-cent increase for a residential property. This represents an increase of approximately $67 per year for an urban home assessed at $355,000 and $55 per year for a rural home assessed at $355,000.
The budget also proposes a reduction of full-time equivalent positions for the fourth consecutive budget, without harming front-line services. Residents would see transit fares and recreation fee increases capped at reasonable levels, while the garbage fee will be frozen for a third consecutive year.
The budget also includes funding to address the current needs of residents by improving mobility, supporting a new crime prevention strategy and increasing affordable housing to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents.
“This budget will keep daily business on track and help the City meet its financial obligations to the major projects already underway,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “I commend City staff for putting forward a responsible financial plan that will also allow investment in a number of the new initiatives identified in consultation with the Mayor and Councillors.”
The $689.1 million in tax- and rate-supported capital projects across the City includes $448 million in citywide projects of benefit to all residents and $241 million for ward-specific or cross-ward projects. More than half of the total is allocated to investments in the renewal of road, water and wastewater assets.
The budget delivers on the following important aspects that make Ottawa a liveable city for all residents and businesses:
A Caring City
– Fund a strategy for crime prevention and gang activity.
– Increase funding for maintenance of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation assets.
– Enhance and increase funding for the School Crossing Guard Program.
– Deliver funding for commemoration of the victims of the tragic September 2013 bus-train collision.
– Involve the City in the renewal of the Ottawa Pride Festival.
A Sustainable City
– Support the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, which will see the expansion and improvement of cycling networks and multi-use pathways across the city to make cycling a safe and convenient option for residents
– Move the Ottawa River Action Plan forward with the construction of the central storage tunnel, putting in place the last elements of funding from federal partners to match investments from the City and Province.
– Increase funding for tree planting by $125,000 to $1.3M.
A Prosperous City
– Modernize Ottawa’s transit system through Light Rail Transit (Stage 1 and Stage 2).
– Continue the construction of the Confederation Line, the light-rail transit line from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture, which is the backbone of the City’s planned light rail network.
– Prepare for the transition from construction of the Confederation Line to full operations in 2018.
– Launch the Western Transitway expansion as the City continues to seek funding for Stage 2 of the Light Rail Transit system that will extend to neighbourhoods in the east, west, and south
An Affordable City
– Limit the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase to 6 per cent, as approved in the latest Long Range Financial Plan.
– Freeze the garbage fees for the third consecutive year.
– Limit the average OC Transpo fare increase to 2.5 per cent, while also providing a $4.2-million investment in new and improved service – including increasing bus routes and approximately 5,700 more Para Transpo trips.
– Reduce 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) City positions, excluding Ottawa Police Services.
Since Term of Council Priorities will be finalized after the 2015 budget is adopted, a funding envelope of $5.4 million within the City Manager’s Office budget and $32 million in the capital budgets has been identified to fund newly established strategic initiatives. These envelopes allow for flexibility over the coming year to ensure public funds spent correspond with priorities once they are set by City Council.
The public will have opportunities to learn more about and comment on the proposed budget by attending any of the four regional budget consultations taking place from Monday, February 9 to Thursday, February 12. Residents are also invited to register as a public delegation to take part in all City Standing Committees, Boards and Commissions, which will meet between Tuesday, February 17 and Thursday, March 5 to consider their 2015 budgets. For full information on the Draft 2015 Budget, visit ottawa.ca/budget2015
City Council will consider the recommendations received from all public consultations, Committees of Council and relevant Boards at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, March 11.