Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney



 

 

 


(Posted 12:30 p.m., Dec. 10)
Council sets 2% tax hike limit
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa’s newly sworn-in city council has approved a two per cent tax increase limit for 2015 in accordance with the 2014 Strategic Plan and the Long Range Financial Plan.

The tax increase, which amounts to approximately an additional $63 for the average urban homeowner, will fund the 2015 operating and capital budgets to be unveiled in February. It does not include a six per cent increase in the water and sewer rate, or potential increases in other user fees or transit rates.

“Some will saw it’s too high while others will say it’s not high enough, but I feel it’s a good starting point,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We need to be realistic and seek middle grown between maintaining good value for our residents and keeping taxes affordable for homeowners.”

A number of the new faces on council were looking for clarification on the proposed tax increase and whether it was a target or a fixed limit. The wording in the 2015 budget direction which was ultimately approved by council seems clear enough, “The municipal portion of the property tax bill will not increase by more than 2.0%”.

Ottawa’s top bureaucrat Kent Kirkpatrick assured city council that senior staff will be able to limit the tax increase to two per cent without impacting current service levels.

“Will be able to meet the budget directions and not involve the service standards that exist today. It will be difficult but I am confident we can do that,” said Kirkpatrick.

River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington expressed his concerns that council maybe handcuffing itself by establishing a two per cent limit on the 2015 tax increase.

“Before I even have opportunity of the needs of my residents we’re being are asked to set a target of two per cent. The message we’re sending to the public is that we
will meet and hold steady on the two per cent when there could very well be needs that need be addressed,” said Brockington. “By committing to two per cent we may be handcuffing our ability to address the needs that are out there.”

Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette was equally concerned about what he was hearing from some of his new colleagues.

“It’s a bit worrisome what I’m hearing around council. I want to be reassured yes what we’re passing today is a guideline, but every attempt will be made to keep it a two per cent or lower,” said Monette.

City treasurer Marian Simulik quickly allayed his fears by reaffirming that any added expenses have to be offset by finding savings in other areas.

Council will have a chance to fund other initiatives during the Strategic Initiative process which will be undertaken after the budget is passed. Staff have set aside $4.7 million in the Strategic Initiative envelop for operating expenses, which reflects the amount of money to be uploaded by the provincial government next year in social service costs, and $31 million for capital projects.

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

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