Monthly Column: Tabling Budget 2012
As we enter our second year at City Hall and reflect on year one, it continues to be an honour and a privilege to work with this Council.
On October 26, the day after the first anniversary of our election, we tabled the budget for 2012. Together with the City Manager and the residents who took time to offer their suggestions, we have proposed an affordable and accountable budget with a tax increase of 2.39% which is below the promised ceiling of 2.5% per year.
The tabling of the budget was the first step in a month-long effort towards planning the city’s finances for 2012. Since October 26, we have held over 15 budget consultations across the city to let people have their say. As we did with the design of the budget, we want the debate of the budget to be an open and participatory process. Budget 2012 was designed in response to the concerns we heard from residents of Ottawa and we will continue to listen.
Below is a list of some of the highlights of the budget.
- A 2.39% annual increase for the coming year – the lowest rate in 5 years.
- The elimination of forty-seven full time equivalent positions contributing to savings of more than $3.4 million each and every year.
- Last year we cut that annual increase in transit fares by two-thirds holding to 2.5%. This year even with fuel prices up by more than 12% and ridership up by 6%, we have once again kept fare increases to 2.5%.
- For the second straight year, frozen fees for city recreation programs that, in the past, have increased significantly.
- The opening of 17 new parks across the City.
- $3 million in the coming year for green building retrofits and $500,000 a year to expanding our green fleet program.
- In 2011, we made $14 million in new annual funding available for affordable housing. Budget 2012 continues this vital funding.
- $3.2 million to boost service to deal with the growth in ridership of OC Transpo. In addition to growth, Budget 2012 provides a targeted $2.3 million in funds to boost capacity on routes like the 87, 94, 95 and 96. More trips and more high-capacity buses will be added to these busy routes
- We will add to the Environmentally Sensitive Land Fund we created last year, dedicated to making sure we have the resources to buy key parcels of land that make sense. Already there is $4.4 million in the fund now and will be adding approximately $1.4 million in an additional contribution this year.
The above highlights are only part of the budget that will be voted on by Council on November 30th. You can read about it in its entirety and also review my speech, which was delivered during the tabling of budget 2012.