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(Posted 3:30 a.m., Dec. 10)
Council approves city budget, 2.12% urban tax increase

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The city's urban ratepayers can expect to pay an additional 2.12% per cent in property taxes next year after council approved the 2016 budget on Wednesday. File photo

Ottawa city council passed the 2016 budget on Thursday, which among other things, includes a 2.12 per cent tax increase for urban property owners. That equates to an extra $72 for the average home worth $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 approved as part of the 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; 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, by eliminating 50 full-time equivalent positions along with reductions in advertising, winter operations, overtime and consulting services.

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.

Although the budget was passed, it did not receive unanimous consent. Five of the 24 councillors voted against it, mostly because of what wasn't in the budget.

Diane Deans felt the budget fails to provide adequate funding for the city's social service agencies. She introduced a motion to commit a further $250,000 from the city’s one-time and unforeseen reserve fund and then replenish the account by eliminating three additional staff positions, but the motion was defeated 15-8.

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum wanted to freeze OC Transpo fares and cover the cost by increasing the transit levy on the tax bill, but his motion also went down in flames, losing on a 17-6 vote.

Both motions were criticized be Mayor Jim Watson and severeal couhcillors including Cumberland Ward Coun. Stephen Blais who took issue with the dissenting councillors for complaing about the pricess without putting foward alternatives.

“The money just doesn’t appear from the sky,” Blais said. “Those who want the process to change need to change themselves.”

Deans and Nussbaum were joined in voting against the budget by Rick Chiarelli, Jeff Leiper and Catherine McKenney. All four east end councillors voted with the majority.

Watson said the city is being as generous as it can be in light of the current economic situation and financial pressures.

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

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

 

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Posted Jan. 12



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