The City of Ottawa tabled the proposed budget for the coming year which among other things includes increased spending for transit services, infrastructure renewal and snow removal, but caps the municipal portion of the average property tax bill at three per cent.
The proposed tax hike includes a 6.4 per cent increase in the transit levy which will generate an additional $9.8 million to be spent on additional buses meant to improve connectivity to the LRT and the overall reliability of transit service.
The budget, as presented, provides an additional $22.5 million in spending for the renewal of aging roads, sidewalks and sewers; $15 million for affordable housing; and $9.9 million for winter maintenance. There is also funding for 30 additional police officers and 14 more paramedics.
On a more local level, each city council will get $100,000 over and above their office budgets to be used at their own discretion to enhance recreation or park facilities in their wards as well as $50,000 per ward for traffic calming measures.
Arts and culture groups will be happy to find out that they are getting another 2.5 per cent increase in spending along with an additional $584,000 to upgrade equipment and systems at the Shenkman Arts Centre and the Meridian Theatre.
Other highlights include $6 million to introduce electric buses into the OC Transpo fleet; $1.5 million to plant 125,000 trees as part of a long-term strategy to replace the thousands of trees that have been lost to Dutch Elm disease and the emerald ash borer; $4.4 million in increased spending for long term care facilities; and a 2.5 per cent increase in transit fares.
The proposed three per cent tax increase equates to an additional $113 for an urban dwelling assessed at $350,000, or an additional $97 for rural ratepayers with a house having the same Market Value Assessment (MVA).
It should be noted that the increase is only on the municipal portion of the property tax bill. The province sets the rate for the education portion and changes in a home's Market Value Assessment could also result in a further increase.
The proposed budget will be reviewed by the city's various standing communities over the next three weeks during which time members of the public can provide their input and committee members can suggest amendments.
The final budget will be presented to city council on Dec. 6.
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