Urban dwellers will see a property tax increase of 2.09 per cent. That works out to an additional $67 in municipal taxes, for a total of $3,283, on a property assessed at $314,500. Rural residents will see a smaller increase of 1.98 per cent, or $50 on average per bill.
Commercial property taxes will increase by 2.5 per cent, which works out to an additional $120, for a total of $4,910 on a property assessed at $264,070.
In total, the city expects to bring in $2.5 billion of revenues in 2013, said city treasurer Marian Simulik.
The draft budget proposes increasing spending on city infrastructure maintenance by $4.5 million. Additionally, $24 million is allocated for new bike lanes along Churchill Avenue as well as an east-west bikeway stretching from Vanier to Westboro.
There’s also $2 million set aside for design work for a new pedestrian bridge over the Rideau Canal connecting Fifth Avenue and Clegg Street.
Offsetting the new spending is an expected $8.8 million in savings arising from streamlining the operations of ServiceOttawa, which is the main entry point for residents to access many municipal services such as recreation facility bookings and paying parking fines. The city says it will offer residents more efficient ways of accessing permits, licensing and other services online.
A further $3.5 million will be saved by eliminating the equivalent of 139 full-time positions, including 100 at OC Transpo. That works out to $25,180 per position, and reports on Wednesday suggested some of those 139 jobs were already vacant and not costing the city any money.
The budget maintains a freeze on councillor and mayor’s office expenses.
Currently, Ottawa’s debt sits at about $1.5 billion, which will not be increased by this year’s budget, according to Ms. Simulik.
Ottawa has the second lowest debt per capita when compared to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, said Mr. Watson.
“The city of Ottawa is in good financial shape,” he said.
A budget for the water and wastewater rate and support services were not included in the tabled budget.
The entire city budget will go to council on Nov. 28 after public consultation and discussion by council committees.
Some other budget highlights include:
- $14 million of continued funding for council’s poverty and homelessness initiative;
- $5.5 million increase in the annual contribution to capital funding for infrastructure maintenance and renewal;
- $5 million increase for parks and recreation facilities across the city;
- $4.9 million in new money to improve safety and mobility with new traffic control signals, intersection control measures, pedestrian countdown and audible signals;
- $2.5 million for ongoing environmental remediation and greening of the city’s vehicle fleet;
- $2 million for accessibility retrofit work to existing buildings and parks;
- $1.76 million increase in operating and expansion budgets for libraries;
- $1 million for the review of the Official Plan and transportation master plan;
- Two per cent increase in funding for social service and health agencies, cultural, community and recreation.