City Council has approved the Budget for 2014 that delivers a 1.9 per cent tax change – the lowest change in seven years, and below the 2 per cent cap directed by City Council on May 8, 2013. The budget respects taxpayers’ expectations that its municipal government live within its means, improve service delivery and invest strategically in initiatives that will help shape the community’s future.
“The approval of Budget 2014 is a testament to the dedication of Council and staff to be both prudent and strategic with our financial resources,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Ottawa is continuing to grow and it is imperative that we spend wisely, with both short- and long-term goals in mind.”
Budget 2014 continues the freeze on recreation fees and the Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets, and garbage fees will remain at the same level as in the previous year. As well, the City will reduce its workforce for the third straight year, with the removal of 55 Full-Time Equivalent positions. In addition, no new debt will be added to the capital budget in 2014.
“The numbers laid out in this budget are directly linked to Council’s priorities,” said City Manager, Kent Kirkpatrick. “It is a responsible fiscal plan that considers present day needs of Ottawa residents and sets a strong foundation for Ottawa’s future.”
Highlights of Budget 2014 include:
- Roll-out of “MyServiceOttawa”, an online account that allows residents and businesses to securely access multiple City services and information in one place 24/7; pay and view billing information for tax and water bills; and apply for a number of licenses and permits online;
- Complete the final year of the $340 million Ottawa-on-the-Move 3-year infrastructure program, including $45 million in citywide road resurfacing to improve transportation networks;
- Open the new Lansdowne for the return of CFL football and provide $2 million in funding for the implementation of programming and part-year operations;
- Continue widening of Highway 417 in coordination with the construction of the Confederation Line;
- Invest $4 million to improve peak operation in highly congested intersections;
- Invest $750,000 to implement and improve pedestrian infrastructure to better connect residents to transit, schools, parks and other key destinations;
- Increase investment in cycling safety and facilities by $2 million;
- Limit the average transit fare increase to 1.9 per cent;
- Support arts and culture through an additional $500,000 in the Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan, and a $1.6 million investment in the Arts Court Redevelopment Project;
- Build and upgrade parks, recreation and cultural facilities in neighbourhoods across the city, including the opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata and the Minto Recreation Complex in Barrhaven;
- Continue Council’s annual investment of $14 million in the Housing and Homelessness Investment Plan;
- Invest an additional $1.2 million to fight the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and to increase forest cover across the city;
- Invest $3.9 million in the Smart Energy Program to reduce the City’s energy costs;
- Invest $2.5 million for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment for firefighters;
- Replace defibrillators used by frontline paramedics, and used as part of the Public Access Defibrillator Program at a cost of $2.2. million;
- Invest $2 million in accessibility improvements to existing City buildings and parks, and;
- Increase investment in Economic Development by $350,000 to attract more events and visitors.