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(Posted 7:30 a.m., Nov. 28)
Status quo budget passes with little fanfare, even less debate

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

City council approved the 2014 budget on Wednesday, which among other things, includes a 1.9 per cent tax increase. File photo

Ottawa homeowners can expect to pay an additional $62 in property taxes next year after council passed the 2014 city budget on Wednesday with very little fanfare and even less debate.

It took councillors less than two hours to pass the budget which was largely crafted by the mayor's office under guidelines adopted by city council in 2010.

Among the guidelines was the directive that no new spending could be added to the budget without offsetting savings being found within the same silo.

That one directive has eliminated the usual wishlists and pet projects that used to take up hours of debate during past budget deliberations. On the plus side, council's decision to adopt tax increases in line or below the rate of inflation has eliminated the need for making surgical cuts to departments and programs year after year.

Under Watson cuts have largely come from the elimination of surplus job positions. In 2014 another 55 positions will be eliminated, saving nearly $4.5 million.

The result is a budget that includes money for road resurfacing, parks, energy saving initiatives, social housing and Improved intersections.

The budget also contains a freeze in garbage collection fees, an additional investment of $500,000 in the Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan, and an ongoing freeze in parks and recreation fees.

The 1.9 per cent tax increase is the lowest increase in seven years and equates to an additional $62 for the average urban homeowner and $55 for rural homeowners. In addition, residents will pay $50 more for water and sewer services after council approved a seven per cent hike in service rates.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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