Ottawa city council proposes 2% tax hike in draft budget

The average homeowner in Ottawa will pay $55 more next year in a proposed budget city councillors saw for the first time on Wednesday.

By Adam Kveton

That is based on a two-per-cent increase and an average home price in the city of $395,400.

The city tabled its 2017 draft budget at a council meeting Wednesday, outlining what Mayor Jim Watson called a “path of fiscal prudence,” which he said strove to create an affordable and sustainable city.

The budget shows a continued adherence to the mayor’s two per cent tax cap, while also bringing in a subsidized bus pass for low-income transit users called an EquiPass. Other additions include 25 new police officers and 24 new paramedics, along with five more emergency vehicles.

There are also increases in the snow-clearing budget of 4.5 million – that’s after staff found $10.8 million in efficiencies.

Overall, the city found $31.3 million in efficiencies, $18.4 million of which came from layoffs that saw 177 employees let go and 1,400 affected as of October.

“I firmly believe that we are in much better shape today than we found ourselves in two years ago,” said Watson, pointing to both the city restructuring and provincial and federal support for projects and causes.

The city’s net debt is forecasted to reach $1.78 billion, though staff noted the city’s assets are increasing faster than the debt.

– With files from Emma Jackson. This article originally appeared in Metro News.