2017 Ottawa draft budget includes low-income transit pass

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(press release)

Ottawa – Earlier today, City Council tabled a balanced budget. Draft Budget 2017 is affordable, fiscally responsible and has a balanced plan to ensure the City operates within its means.  Draft Budget 2017 focuses on strengthening core municipal services to residents with a continued commitment to long-term affordability.

 

The draft budget introduces the new EquiPass to support residents living below the low-income cut off and includes a 50 per cent discount from the cost of the regular monthly adult pass. This is the largest one-time increase in financial support for public transit in the City’s history. A single person using the EquiPass will save $56 each month — or about $672 each year — leaving more money available for other basic necessities such as food, clothing and accommodations.

The draft budget also includes funding for core community priorities such as social infrastructure, safety, the environment, support for the arts and efforts to promote economic growth. Substantial investments in active transportation and improved transit services are key priorities of this budget, and securing funding for consistent service delivery and programs that support our most vulnerable residents.

 

As City Council directed in October, the draft budget caps the residential property tax at 2 per cent.

 

“We have listened to residents through the budget consultation process over the last year, and we have built their feedback into the draft 2017 Budget,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We have created a balanced approach that is both inclusive and affordable. We have also worked hard to ensure that Budget 2017 reflects the priorities identified by residents.”

 

As part of the City’s ongoing efficiency reviews including the recent corporate organizational alignment, accumulated savings have been achieved for both 2017 and 2018. Structural financial issues have been addressed to better serve residents by redeploying resources to deliver core municipal services. These efficiencies help ensure that the City operates within its financial means to deliver programs and services in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

 

“The City has found efficiencies across the organization balancing the requirement to meet Council priorities without disrupting City services,” said City Manager Steve Kanellakos. “By solving our budget gap in one year the City is able to reinvest in core municipal service areas that improve the lives of residents across Ottawa.”

 

The draft budget also includes a 1.25 per cent increase in the total amount generated from transit fares and limits the surcharges for water and sewer services to an increase of 5 per cent. The draft budget caps the residential property tax at two per cent, the transit levy at 2.5 per cent and a slight increase of $2 for the garbage fee, which amounts to approximately $72 per year for an urban home assessed at $395,400 and $60 per year for a rural home assessed at the same amount.

 

The Draft Budget 2017 continues Council’s commitment to strengthen the long-term vision of an affordable, caring, sustainable and prosperous city.  City-wide highlights include:

 

An Affordable City

  • Limit the proposed tax revenue increase for the City-wide levy to 2 per cent
  • Continue setting money aside to reduce the funding gap for the maintenance of City assets
  • Maintain the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase at 5 per cent

 

A Caring City

  • Introduce the new EquiPass, a transit pass to assist residents earning below Statistic Canada’s low-income cut-off
  • Invest in city-wide safety by adding 24 new paramedic positions and five new emergency response vehicles to maintain our Paramedic Service’s ability to meet legislated response time targets
  • Maintain our $16-million investment in affordable housing and homelessness programs
  • Invest in community agencies currently receiving Community Funding that deliver a wide range of programs and services
  • Improve road safety by expanding the red-light camera program and funding new street lighting, traffic control devices and crossing-guards
  • Strategic investments in parks and recreation infrastructure and support to recreation programming
  • Increase funding for arts infrastructure and programs that support the long-term marketing and growth of our festivals and other arts, culture and heritage projects that will be chosen by the community

 

A Sustainable City

  • Continue improving the City’s cycling infrastructure network with a focus on safety and convenience, featuring buffered bike lanes, enhanced cycling crossings and wider sidewalks for pedestrians
  • Invest in measures to protect the urban tree canopy
  • Build the Combined Sewage and Storage Tunnel – the largest Ottawa River Action Plan project
  • Rehabilitate the communal well system that serves rural Ottawa

 

A Prosperous City

  • Bid on the 2021 Canada Summer Games to inject tourism dollars into the local economy
  • Continue work on the O-Train Confederation Line project
  • Invest $1.75 million to improve and expand bus service for customers in growing areas of the city
  • Invest in transportation infrastructure to support growing neighbourhoods in the west, south and east
  • Support for special events in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary

 

Public engagement and feedback are important elements in the budget process, assisting the Mayor and Council to make key decisions to guide and direct the investment of public funds. As part of the pre-budget consultation process, Councillors conducted information sessions from September to October – providing information on the municipal budget process to residents and gathering views on the priorities for this budget.

 

In addition to the Councillor-led sessions, online resources were available to raise awareness on the budget process, including an interactive consultation tool which allowed residents to plan a simulated municipal budget.

 

With the 2017 Draft Budget tabled, there are still opportunities for the public to offer input before the final budget goes to Council for consideration on December 14. Residents can:

 

  • Register as a public delegation at a committee, board or commission budget review meeting.
    • Members of the public can make a five-minute presentation to standing committees, boards and commissions at meetings taking place from November 10 to December 8. A list of upcoming meetings is available at ca/budget2017
  • Contact your City Councillor
    • The public can still contact Councillors directly to express views about the 2017 Draft Budget.
  • Email budget@ottawa.ca
  • Tweet @ottawacity using hashtag #ottbudget
  • Call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). Rural residents call 613-580-2400.

 

For further information on the 2017 Draft Budget, visit ottawa.ca/budget2017.


OttawaStart Staff

feedback@ottawastart.com

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