Home Canada Sutcliffe keeps tax hike promise in ‘tight’ $5.5B city budget

Sutcliffe keeps tax hike promise in ‘tight’ $5.5B city budget

by News Desk
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The first budget submitted by Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe will go a long way in his pivotal election, from raising property taxes to 2.5% to freezing public transit fares and increasing funding for social services agencies. We have fulfilled some of our promises.

Sutcliffe also fulfilled his vow Putting more money into road improvements and affordable housing while investing $5 million in the foundation funding of the city’s climate plan.

“The city’s budget isn’t really about data,” Sutcliffe said in his Wednesday morning budget speech. “It’s about people and communities. It’s about programs and services. It’s about intentions and priorities.”

Sutcliffe said officials realized $54 million in savings and efficiencies within the city’s $5.5 billion budget. Most of these savings (more than $47 million) came from transportation budgets, including a reduction in his 117 buses and the amount the city puts into transportation capital costs.

The city expects a 2.2% increase in tax revenue from new property owners, and since most of the city’s collective bargaining agreements have been fixed for several years, the mayor has been able to bring in relatively low tax revenue. Tax budget despite inflationary pressure.

But Sutcliffe warned that without support from higher levels of government, the situation would not continue.

“Definitely this is a tight budget,” he said.

“If state and federal governments do not support financial gaps in transportation and other areas, they will not have the funds to address the problem. Loss of revenue related to Bill 23and if you can’t get build support Housing Needs in the Next Decade, will face significant pressure on budgets from 2024 onwards. ”

This slide of Ottawa’s 2023 budget shows the increase in taxes facing the average homeowner. (Ottawa City)

The average taxpayer will have to pay an additional fee of $104

The 2023 budget calls for $4.5 billion in operating expenses and another $1 billion in capital.

For owners of average-valued urban homes, taxes will increase by $104, while rural homeowners will pay an additional $85.

Water and wastewater rates are also set to rise in 2023, averaging $38 for urban homeowners and $10 for rural homeowners.

The City of Ottawa shows where its 2023 operating budget is being spent.
This chart shows the city’s 2023 operating budget broken down by service type. (Ottawa City)

City needs $39 million to balance transportation budget

Declining passenger numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to put pressure on transportation budgets.

The city envisions 70% of pre-pandemic passenger levels in 2023 and will freeze fares across the board, as promised by Sutcliffe in the 2022 election.

Sutcliffe said the fare freeze “not only adds to the affordability crisis, but also shows respect for customers, Recent experience on trains and buses.”

To that end, OC Transpo plans to significantly rethink bus locations, but says the route will not be cut.

OC Transpo found $47 million in savings by disposing of 117 obsolete buses and deferring funding for future capital projects, but to make the 2023 budget work, It will require $39 million from the top levels of government.

Details of the transportation budget will be revealed at the Transportation Board meeting on February 9, open to the public.

People board a red and white bus with R1 drawn on the front screen.
The city plans to cut the 117 buses that OC Transpo says are not in use, while also reducing the amount of money put into capital costs. (Nelly Alberola/Radio Canada)

2% increase in recreation fees

The budget includes a 2% increase in recreation fees in line with previous budgets and a promise to make recreational and cultural programs more affordable for low-income households.

$4.5 million for Ottawa social services, including $2.1 million for community agencies that support racialized youth, prevent gender-based violence, and improve access to community-based mental health programs; We are securing new funds.

The Community Funds Framework fund also increased by $1.3 million for a total of $27.5 million. The fund will support institutions, non-profits and indigenous peoples organizations that serve residents facing greatest need.

New funding to fight climate change

The 2023 budget will generate $5 million in annual stable funding for Ottawa’s budget. Climate change master plan.

“If you invest now in things like renovations, it will save you money in the future. So I’m really happy to see that basic funding,” said the Capital ward Coun. Sean Menard, who served as chairman and sought predictable funding during the council’s final term;

Until now, no specific amount was set aside each year for initiatives such as installing electric vehicle charging stations or installing heat pumps in low-income housing.

Instead, the amount changed each year depending on the dividends the city received from Hydro Ottawa.

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