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(Posted 8:30 p.m., Nov. 12)
Draft city budget includes 2.12% urban tax increase

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The city's finance staff presented the 2016 draft budget on Thursday which includes an additional $72 in taxes and levies for the average homeowner. File photo

The City of Ottawa tabled the 2016 draft budget on Thursday, which among other things, includes a 2.12 per cent tax increase for homes in the urban boundary. That equates to an extra $72 for the average home with a property value of $375,300.

The figure includes an extra $11 per household for police services and $17 for transit services. It does not include a six per cent increase in the water and sewer rate which is billed separately, or a 2.5 per cent increase in OC Transpo fares.

Among the spending increases being proposed in the draft budget is a 1.5 per cent increase in funding for community resource centres; $40,000 per ward for traffic calming measures; an additional $50,000 for low-income families seeking access to recreation programs; $200,000 to maintain the city’s winter cycling network; and $3.5 million to upgrade recreation centres, develop new splash pads and install new play structures.

In order to balance the budget while limiting the tax increase to two per cent, the city needs to implement $37 million in savings. There’s a call to eliminate 50 full-time equivalent positions along with reductions in advertising, winter operations, overtime and consulting services.

The budget’s architects are counting on the ability of senior staff to find and implement $10 million in efficiencies in 2016 and they plan to draw $11.5 million from the vehicle replacement reserve fund which currently has a balance of $23 million. Instead of replacing city vehicles on set depreciation schedule, they will be replaced on an as needed basis.

A number of recreation fees will also be going up in 2016. Public skating fees will go up between five and 13 per cent, and swimming fees will see an increase of between six and 21 per cent. Ice rental fees will also be going up. For instance, the hourly rate for minor hockey teams will increase 5.6 per cent from $144.04 to $152.13.

The budget also calls for the implementation of a new $40 “integration fee” for special needs camps.

The capital budget includes funding for a number of east end projects...

- $18.6 million to extend Brian Coburn Blvd. from Mer Bleue Road to Navan Road

- $5.5 million to add a full-service community centre to the François Dupuis Recreation Centre in Avalon

- $5.2 million for a new fire station south of Innes Road;

- $750,000 for a district skatepark also south of Innes Road

- $320,000 to complete the playground at the new Miracle League of Ottawa baseball field

- $280,000 has been set aside for the design work for the future expansion of the Blackburn Arena

- $210,000 towards the construction of Park 18B in Cardinal Creek.

The draft budget will now be reviewed by the city’s various standing committees, during which members of the public will be able to provide their input. Councillors will have their final say on the document on Dec. 9.

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

 

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